Pale-ist

This post isn’t really about hair colour, but one of the things children with red hair have to get used to, is being called ‘ginger’. (Usually ‘Oi, Ginger’ – I should know…)

Red-headed kids

Some with natural ‘auburn’, ‘titian‘ or even ‘strawberry-blonde’ hair have had such abuse that some have called it the last remaining personal attribute to be regularly abused without it being considered discrimination.

However, there is another personal attribute that is regularly and publicly discriminated against in a rather surprising, universal way. It is: being pale coloured, pale skinned; and on the dance-floor.

You may have expected that it is the quality of the dancing that is being judged in the various national dance competitions that are all the rage since ‘Strictly‘ hit our t.v. screens. But no, even the contestants skin-colour is judged.

'Tanned' dance competitor, with fans

And sometimes, skin colour is judged to be lacking. Contestants who have not fake-tanned to some particular colour or shade may sometimes not proceed to further rounds.

I really do find it astonishing that this should be the case. It is like a reverse discrimination. Why, when ‘blacking up‘ has long been considered beyond-the-pale, does this practise still hold credence in the dance world? If black contestants were being asked to fake-pale (as opposed to fake-tan) to some bronzed-tanned standard, there would be tough questions, legitimately asked.

There are also the health dangers in too much exposure to the sun to get a ‘natural’ tan. Yes, maybe dance competitions only expect fake-tans on their competitors; but the temptations to ‘top-up’ their natural tan whenever possible must put some competitors at considerable health risks. Australia, with the highest skin cancer rates in the world have had a Slip, Slop, Slap campaign since the 1980s.

Perhaps the dance industry hasn’t considered the impact of these expectations on competitors. Don’t competitors look just stunning in their own skin colour; whether that is naturally tanned, or naturally dark, or naturally pale & luminous? Is it time for a campaign?

If you are enjoying the summer sun, remember to be careful out there.

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2 Responses to “Pale-ist”


  • Where’s your evidence that skin colour is judged?

    • Thanks: it was a judge’s comment to a ‘pale’ contestant that provoked my post, actually.

      By coincidence, not having been to one before, I’ll be sitting in on a regional universities dance competition today – I’ll be interested to watch out for any comments.

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