Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Light and Dark (05/21/09)
TITLE: Deeper Than (Skin) Deep
By Glynis Becker
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With the checklist completed, I stepped cautiously into the chamber that was guaranteed to take my glaring white Minnesota skin and return to me a healthy California glow in under five minutes. I closed the door behind me (was that an ominous ‘thud’ I just heard?) and reread the instructions. How hard can it be to stand in the numbered position, arms slightly bent and hold my breath for 20 seconds? I pushed the button and nervously waited for the countdown.
When my front side got hit with the first cold mist I began regretting that double cappuccino I’d consumed an hour before, as it became an unhealthy addition to my naturally-jumpy personality. I sputtered and coughed explosively—so much for the holding my breath part. And as the fight-or-flight instinct kicked in I started to suck in breath after breath. How toxic is this stuff? How many years have I just shaved off my life span? My heart began racing as if Belmont was at stake. I reached for the door while the first spray cycle died to a trickle. I had to get out. Now.
Stumbling naked into the room, I decided that no scent was ever as welcome as the familiar coconut oil that sun-worshippers seem so fond of. I almost kissed the floor, it felt so good to be out of that closet of death, but having seen several of the other patrons of this tanning establishment, wrinkled my nose and decided I was better off just being inwardly relieved.
In my peripheral vision, I caught sight of myself in the seashell-encrusted mirror. What an absurd picture I made. A laugh bubbled up and I couldn’t help but release it. What was I doing? Who was I trying to impress? How many times had my friends complimented me on my China doll skin? I’d been called ‘an English rose’ once by someone in line with me at the grocery store. My boyfriend, Rob, never missed an opportunity to let me know he thinks I’m beautiful; why was it never enough for me?
How many different shades of hair color had I attempted in the last few years? I went for strawberry blonde, ended up with something only marginally less flashy than Pepto-Bismol. I tried ash blonde once, but for a few weeks I sported a slightly violet ‘do until it washed out. I was just never happy with myself. Why is that? And I have enough girlfriends to know that I’m not alone. Blue-eyed blondes with curly hair and pale skin want to be exotic, dark-eyed beauties with silky hair and vice versa. An almost-universal dissatisfaction we women seem to have with ourselves.
At thirty-years-old, was I ever going to be comfortable in my own skin, regardless of how dark or light it might be? I know I’m created in the image of an awe-inspiring God, who formed me uniquely to be me. Shouldn’t that be enough? Definitely a cliché, but the truth is that I really do believe that beauty is more than skin deep. Now I just needed to figure out how to live it.
As I threw away the hair net, rubbed off the lotion and put back on my street clothes, I concluded that maybe I’d just had a breakthrough. Maybe I was going to be okay with me. Maybe I don’t need the whole world to think I’m gorgeous—as long as Rob does, and God does, I can be okay with that.
And I chuckled as it occurred to me that my mission for the next week was to find some clever way to show off half a gorgeous tan.
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