faking it

June 6, 2009

One of the reasons my parents sent me abroad was to be more exposed and learn different cultures. I certainly learned an importance difference straight away.

There were actually places where you can get darker skin. They’re called tanning salons. Bizarre, isn’t it?! In Asia, the fairer you are, the more beautiful you are perceived to be. That’s why you only see whitening creams and all sorts of treatments that can make you look like a ghost. Here, whitening creams are unheard of. Only bronzing lotions, dahling.

So, in spirit of British-ness, I decided to get a fake tan. I saw an ad in Grazia, and thought hmm…maybe I’ll give it a shot. I’m leaving London soon anyway, when else can I get it done? So, today, one of my goals in life was checked; to get a fake tan once in my life just so I know what it feels like, before I judge those orange Hollywood stars.

This is one thing I love about being a writer/blogger. You can do stupid things like these and call it “research“.

The lady on the phone seemed to know that this was my first time. Perhaps my asking millions of questions blew my cover. Is it safe? What colour can I get? How long does it last? How long is the procedure? Any side effects? Will it streak? What happens if I don’t like it? Have you seen F.R.I.E.N.D.S? The part where Ross gets a tan and it turns out to be a disaster? Yeah, that won’t happen right?


Basically, yes it’s safe. They only had one colour – natural brown. It lasts about 5-7 days. It’s only 15 minutes. No side effects. Streaks only if you rub or put water while it’s trying to dry. She doesn’t know what will happen if I don’t like it. She does not watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S. (gasp). Yes it’s safe. No, no one has gotten skin cancer. Yes it’s safe, mam. Do you want to do this or not? (I could feel her rolling her eyes this time)

Sheesshh, PMS.

So yes, today I went for my appointment and was introduced to this machine.




One thing I didn’t realise was that I had to take off my clothes. I wanted to slap myself silly for not spotting the obvious, but the lady assured me that she sees naked bodies a million times a day and that she promised she wouldn’t laugh. After she pinky-sweared me, I slowly and nervously took off my clothes.

I had to stand in front of this machine with arms up, and had to turn here and there so she could spray every tiny inch of my body. It was quite embarrassing really.

She tried to calm me down by starting conversation. But I was like uhhh it’s hard to answer your question when you’re eye-level to my you-know-whats. It was awkward with a capital A.

When she was done spraying, she told me to stay in the room for a while to let it dry. I looked in the mirror and thought wow this is nice! I was tanned, and just slightly sun-kissed, looking like I just went on a beach holiday for a few days. I loved it.

That was because the room was dark.

I started my way home thinking that I looked great, and that people were staring because they were jealous.

Then I got home and looked at the mirror. I panicked. OMG, I look like I’m auditioning for Slumdog Millionaire. I panicked and told Stella, and she said “Oh it’s OK. Freida Printo is really pretty!”. Errr Stell, there’s nothing Freida Pinto about me right now.

I looked like this.


Natural brown, your head!

I loved how my arms and legs looked, but my face was completely shiny!!

Stella came over straight away, partly because she was busybody and wanted to remember this day (haha) and partly because she was worried I had turned into coal.

I washed my feet because there was some tanning liquid stuck on the soles, and some water splashed onto my calves and made streaks! Not even an hour after the lady sprayed me, I already managed to make streaks! I was so upset. I wish I could show you pictures, but it’s just too funny.

I thought the colour would just blend and settle, but after 5 hours, the streaks were still obvious.

The lady told me that I should only shower the next morning, but I decided to defy her instructions. I was staining everything I wore, can you imagine how dirty my bedsheets would be tonight? I’d have to sleep standing up for 8 hours!

So I showered, fingers crossed that my tan wouldn’t completely disappear. My god, the water was completely brown, it looked as if I hadn’t showered for 5 years! I took a deep breath and braved towards the mirror.

PHEW!! Now it’s just perfect.

The tan got lighter and I look more like the old me, just fresh off my yacht holiday in Monaco. Just in case anybody asks.

So now I’ve experienced first-hand what a tanning session feels like. It’s a lot of hassle just to look darker. I’d rather just sit in the middle of the field with a good book, and let the sun work its magic. Ugh, but that involves sweating.

Screw it, I’d rather just be pale. I’m happy with the way I am, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Now I can judge those orange Hollywood stars who don’t love their own skin.