tanorexia and racism

I once had a boss who suffered from “tanorexia” (tanning addiction). Though red of hair, her face was dark and leathery; it was painful to behold, and people would make morbid fire-survivor jokes behind her back. Her tan never faded, even through the coldest and cloudiest winter months.
This boss was noticeably biased against the few naturally darker-skinned employees under her authority, and accusations of racism bubbled to the surface now and then. When I mentioned, to the affected coworkers, that what we have here is probably not “racism” but jealousy, laughter was the response. This had never occurred to them and they didn’t know what to make of it. We all knew she had a tanning problem, and we all knew she treated her darker employees as second-class citizens; she kept us (yes, in her eyes I was “dark” too) as far away from herself as possible. But nobody had put two and two together.
Is dark skin (I’m not necessarily including very dark skin here) considered more attractive among whites in America? A 2010 ABC article reports:

The Jersey Shore uber-tan aesthetic may not be for everyone, but it seems that even for non-Guidettes, having a tan makes them sexier, according to a study from Emory University.

Researchers used the popular attractiveness-rating website HotorNot.com to gauge whether “hotness” scores would change when the same woman was shown with her natural complexion and then with a tan.

Using Photoshop, 45 photos of women aged 21 to 35 were doctored to look tan. The original photos and the doctored versions were posted to the site at different times. The researchers found that the darker version was twice as likely to be rated as more attractive.

Of course, tan enthusiasts would say that you don’t need science to figure that one out.

“When I look in the mirror I feel more attractive when I’m darker, like my face is prettier. It’s 100 percent a confidence boost for me,” says Lauren Kafka, 31, of Miami, who uses a tanning bed three times a week to keep up her golden glow.

Are less attractive people jealous of more attractive people? At least among females, the answer is obviously “yes.” It’s not a stretch to say that some fair-skinned people are jealous of darker-skinned people – and that this jealousy can translate into perceived racism in a work environment.

If “racism” is at work here, then it might actually be the self-loathing that so many whites possess. They loath their white skin, they consider it ugly – and they envy those whose skin is a few shades darker. How ironic that the demonization of whites can lead to “racist” attitudes toward non-whites. How many “microaggressions” against non-whites can be laid at the feet of white guilt and white self-loathing?


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13 Responses to tanorexia and racism

  1. Handle says:

    In my observations, though i haven’t researched it, there seems to be a link between testosterone and melanin production. For any ethic group, the males seem slightly darker than the females on average. If you add Sailer’s ‘is love colorblind’ data, it would seen that pairing preferences tend to be females preferring slightly darker complexions than average for their own ethic group, and make preferring fairer women. There may be some discontinuity when all the males are extremely dark, or all the women extremely fair. But women get self-conscious about all kinds of visible features and there’s always one they obsess about changing even when it doesn’t matter to anyone else. For very fair women who get hung up on their paleness, tanning is one of those things they can do to easily change themselves, so it makes them feel less frustrated with powerlessness.

    • SFG says:

      This is pretty gender-biased, as Sailer said–tall, dark, and handsome vs fair maiden.
      Tans mean outdoor activity–>healthy and leisure in some cases. It’s not inconceivable she could have been tanorexic and anti-dark-skin as well. She likely was, as you say, a nut.

  2. Nyk says:

    What about Indians, East Asians, Thais? Skin whitening cream is all the rage in some of these places. Does the attraction to tanned people only manifest in the case of Whites?

  3. Stealth says:

    YES, tanning ability is definitely prized by white people, especially among those populations that produce the most red-heads and natural blonds. When I was growing up, fair skin was seen as a sign of genetic inferiority, as was having freckles. People who never tanned would go out in the sun just to see if it would work this time. My grandmother informed me often that I had “thin skin,” as if it were muscular dystrophy or something.
    Many are paying the price. Melanoma is epidemic and the ones who stay in the sun are typically the pale blonds and redheads (at least the ones lucky enough to get somewhat of a tan) who should be diligent about avoiding exposure.
    I remember laughing as I read an article claiming that redheads might one day become extinct because of racial mixing. As someone who’s not red-haired but afflicted by the genes that cause it, I can honestly say that the dilution or outright extinction of those mc1r alleles will benefit whites (and humanity, I suppose) greatly.

    • peppermint says:

      you mean to say that tanning *was* prized.
      When did it start?
      Who came up with tanning for White women?
      > I remember laughing as I read an article claiming that redheads might one day become extinct because of racial mixing. As someone who’s not red-haired but afflicted by the genes that cause it, I can honestly say that the dilution or outright extinction of those mc1r alleles will benefit whites (and humanity, I suppose) greatly.

      • Stealth says:

        No, I said that it IS prized – present tense. I used “prized” as an adjective. It’s just like saying “I’m tired.” If there’s been a backlash against tanning among European Americans, I haven’t heard about it.
        It’s been said that tanning became popular after a model named Coco Chanel returned from vacation with a tan in the early twentieth century. Monkey see, monkey do.
        Getting rid of the genes that cause ultra-fair skin like mine would drastically reduce the incidence of skin cancer among people of European descent. It would also eliminate a lot of the nasty looking damage that fair-skinned people accumulate. Besides all that, it’s not so nice to burn up in the sun so quickly.
        I doubt the obsession with tanning has anything to do with jealousy of darker skinned peoples, however.

  4. I have former classmates who look 20 years older than me because they sat at the river or the pool frying their skin. When I was a teenager these ladies would use melted butter to tan with. Being lily white was deemed ugly and tanner teenagers were hotter. I’m so glad I didn’t succumb to that nonsense. I’m in my 50’s and have very few wrinkles.

  5. Bill says:

    I think there are two subtleties. First, it is women who are more attracted to darker skinned people (as a couple of other commenters have alluded to). Second, women seem, very commonly, to fail to grasp the distinction between “attractive to women” and “attractive.” So, a woman might believe something insane like “if I were more self-confident, men would find me hotter” or “if I were darker skinned, men would find me hotter.” Tanning, in fact, makes women uglier. It ages their skin, and nothing is a bigger turn-off to men in women than age.
    This explains the otherwise inexplicable tendency of women to use tanning booths. Men don’t particularly like dark women, but women definitely like dark men, and women are solipsistic. It also explains the tendency of women to believe bizarre things about other women’s attractiveness. Lots of women seem to honestly think the First Lady is attractive, for example. Dark skin, swaggering gate, broad shoulders, impressive musculature, and showy pseudo self confidence are attractive . . . to women in men. Men seem not to find the First Lady attractive at all.

    • Stealth says:

      For the record, Tracy Morgan finds the first lady very attractive. His thoughts on the matter can be found on Youtube.
      Tanning looks good on a woman up to a point, but it’s not the same as having naturally dark skin, which looks a little different. Also, for some reason, there’s nothing trashier looking than a thirty-something year-old woman with bleach blond hair and a year-round tan courtesy of artificial light sources. It makes her seem very superficial and none too smart.
      People in general are hopelessly conformist, but it seems that women are particularly desperate to be just like everyone else, even if it damages their health. By the time I was a senior in high school, around half of the boys in my class smoked, but every single one of the girls did it.

  6. M. Less says:

    I think this is all nonsense. The referenced study is garbage to begin with. Pictures of people photoshopped to look tanned? That doesn’t sound very scientific to me.
    In any event, being more attracted to someone with a tan is not the same thing as being attracted to darker “types”. A blue eyed blonde with Teutonic features looks Teutonic whether she’s gut a California tan or is pale as a ghost. Sun tans don’t make Scandinavians look Mediterranean. Finding a sun tan attractive doesn’t imply “white self loathing”; that’s an absurd generalization. Tanning itself is in fact something which presupposes whiteness.
    It’s all just a matter of taste and personal preference. There are plenty of pale, Northern European type white guys who prefer swarthy Mediterranean type women and vice versa.
    The fact that so many on here seem to think that women prefer darker guys however says a LOT about the psychology of “white nationalist” types.
    JAY wrote another piece here in which he quoted a black journalist suggesting that the more fully negroid looking blacks hate the more caucasoid looking blacks because they think the more caucasoid looking blacks are so much more attractive. Now he seems to be suggesting that white racism is borne of a similar envy towards darker skinned types.
    [I’m growing more convinced every day that JAY is engaged in a very subtle form of satire here.]

    • jewamongyou says:

      Perhaps I should have been more clear. I wasn’t implying that every white person who prefers a tan is self-loathing, only that some of them might be. The case I’m describing is a very specific phenomenon.
      As for blacks envying more white-looking blacks, while white envy darker whites. There’s no contradiction. For some people, the grass is greener on the other side.

      • M. Less says:

        I don’t know why you interpreted my remarks as suggesting a contradiction; quite the contrary. I was pointing out that you are suggesting that white racism is a manifestation of envy, much as the other post suggested black hostility towards more caucasoid blacks was a manifestation of envy.
        It sounds an awful lot like a tweak on the nose to “white advocates” (i.e. “You’re just jealous!”).
        I just find it fascinating that so many here state matter of factly that women prefer darker skinned men as though it is an established fact reflecting a broad social consensus (it isn’t), because the reaction to most people reading this would be “huh?” It’s like stating as a matter of fact that most women prefer coke to pepsi.
        Do you have any data to back that up?
        These sound like men with issues. The psychological implications of a bunch of self described “white nationalists” saying they think white women prefer darker types is rather obvious I think (i.e. “white women must reject me cause I’m not dark enough; darn those dark guys!” etc.). Among other things, they are projecting this very odd perspective onto the larger society.
        In my experience, honestly, I’ve found that if anything women tend not to be terribly concerned with the complexion. They’re more concerned with things like height and sense of humor and economic stability than with how light or dark a guy isWhile most people tend not to date outside their race, people generally are not averse to dating outside their phenotype.
        As far as caucasians are concerned, it is not at all unusual to see darker types of either sex date both darker and lighter types and vice versa. A women can fall hard for a blond guy and subsequently fall just as hard for a swarthy Latin type and perhaps marry a redhead.
        I find the whole “women prefer dark guys” a baseless generalization. I think they’re just trying to rationalize why chicks don’t dig them. I’ve seen this phenomenon elsewhere; lovelorn dark types who convince themselves the opposite sex is more interested in light types and lovelorn light types who convince themselves the opposite sex is more interested in dark types. What is unusual is to respond to this perceived slight by becoming a racial separatist.
        It makes me think a lot of racism, whether the racist is white, black, brown, or yellow, may be a manifestation of sexual frustration, lol…

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