Getting A Tofino Tan

You will never see me in a bathing suit in Tofino. Never ever.

It may have happened once or twice in the first summer, on the hottest of hot days in July. I would wander down the street to the beach with my book and my towel and the confidence that comes with having a post high school body. I was still willing to lay down, half naked, and read. I shudder to think of it now.

Never again.

Most of you know, I’m a pale person. My natural hair color is on the reddish-blond side, leaving me with the kind of opalescent skin that makes anesthesiologists and nurses weep with joy. No one ever had a hard time finding a vein on me. The state of my paleness has only gotten worse in the past four years.

I have gone from being acceptably pale to borderline albino. How does this happen?

It happens when you move to a place where the average temperature hovers around 20 degrees in the summer. Yes, I live near the ocean. Yes, we surf regularly. This does not equal sun or even warmth. When I surf, I am snugly ensconced in a head to toe wetsuit with booties to keep my tootsies warm. The sun wouldn’t dream of being able to penetrate 3 millimeters of neoprene. Also, living near the ocean means we have a pretty wicked ocean breeze most days, making sun bathing a suicide mission.

Because of my progressive paleness, when I do venture out into the sun for a beach day, I have to slather myself in a 30 SPF all over my body, and waterproof/sweatproof/tanproof sunscreen on my face. Otherwise, I end up purple and peely. Not a pretty face to present to tourists.

The lack of tan has gotten so bad that other Tofitians have commented on my paleness. Mostly, the townspeople all just recognize that everyone living in Tofino works too damn hard to get out in the sun, and the little bit of sun we do get just isn’t enough for a decent tan. But that didn’t stop my boss from gawking at my transparent legs last summer, howling “and I thought my legs were white!”.

Because of this trauma and my understanding that if I remove too much clothing, I reflect the sun like a lighthouse on the coastline, I don’t go tan on the beach anymore. If you do see me down at the beach, I’m usually bundled up into a sweater and jeans to fend off the breeze. Or, on a really warm day, in a sundress. With a cardigan. And polarized sunglasses.

Anything less than that, and I might blind the sea life.

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