One of my closest friends recently left town for graduate school in Seattle*. At the going away dinner, I noticed that he looked a little different.
“Hey, E, you look darker than usual.”
“Yeah,” he replied, “I’m trying to get as much sun as I can get because when I come back from Seattle I’m going to look like you.”
Ouch. Come on. I’m not that pale.
I was going to end this post with that line up above, but I changed my mind. E’s comment was a joke. It made me laugh, it made other people laugh and I wasn’t offended. Well, maybe a little. I’ve heard comments like this before. Way back when I was in college, my aunt asked me, “¿porqué estás tan blanca? estás enferma?” I wasn’t sick. It was just my color, oh and it was winter and I didn’t get much sun as a full time student.
A bit later, at Adrian’s birthday party late in the summer one of my sister’s friends asked, “what happened to Cindy? Why is she much lighter than the rest of you?”
Well, because we come in all colors. I like to joke that I have the potential to be much more prieta, to have skin like my brothers or to just be a little more morenita like my sister. But I came out pale, and I’ve gotten lighter and lighter as I get older and spend less time out in the sun and more time in front of a computer or book.
Whereas there are many Mexican women (and other women of color) who would love to have lighter skin, I’m not one of them. I’m color struck in the much less common direction. I’d love to be darker, I don’t want to be called white. And even though I do want more color, I’m not about to lay out in the sun or lie in a tanning bed. I gotta keep away the wrinkles (and worse! skin cancer), or else how will I make sure people keep under-guessing my age?
*Hmm. Maybe he’ll run into Daily Texican and convince him to begin blogging again. That’d be cool.