My teenage daughter is getting grief from members of her dance team because she won’t chemically alter the color of her skin (aka spray tan) for an upcoming competition. Not only does she not like the idea of the chemicals on her skin and the smell of the spray, she doesn’t want to show up at school one day suddenly bronzed (we are a very pale people and the change would be dramatic). And at a school where 75 percent of the student body are people of color, an obvious self-tanner would tend to stick out.

So is the real reason the other girls are giving her a hard time because they think the team won’t look as uniform if one among them is paler than the rest? That doesn’t really make sense. There are African-American girls on the team. I presume that no one is going to tan so darkly as to match their skin. There are couple of girls who come from Hispanic and Asian families. Who decides if their skin tone is just right or needs to be slightly altered?

I think if they could be truly honest, the girls might admit that it’s just irritating that one of their own is perfectly happy with the way her skin looks as is and has no desire to change it. People who are comfortable in their own skin are truly maddening to people who aren’t.

May we all find a way to be comfortable with who we are so that we don’t look for ways to make others feel uncomfortable about who they are.

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