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Anyone ever comment on your "lovely tan"?

(16 Posts)
brightonpebble Mon 02-Nov-09 20:53:29

Hi,
I'm American, ethnically half hispanic, half northern european. Back home in California anyone would assume I was hispanic or mixed with a glance, and for certain if they know my (spanish) surname.

Here however, people dont seem to know what to make of me. I often get asked, "what a lovely tan! have you been somewhere nice on holiday?". I just give a bemused smile and say no, I've been here in rainy england all winter just like you, this is just my normal skin colour.

DH (white british) thinks it's an incredibly racist comment. I always thought it was just naive. More recently I wonder if its actually a very indirect way of enquiring as to my ethnicity.

Does anyone else ever get this? What do you say?

itwasntme Tue 03-Nov-09 06:58:07

My 5 year old dd gets this a lot. Again she is half hispanic, has blue eyes, and straight chestnut hair. Her facial features are more European, except for the colour of her skin.

So yes, she gets asked why she has such a lovely tan very fequently.

I don't get offended, as I don't think this constitutes racism. There aren't as many latin americans in this part of the world, so this kind of colouring is not so easy to place. If I am honest, she does look like she has a tan.

I reply in much the same way that you do. There is not much else you can do.

This has had the effect of making her very aware of the colour of her skin but thankfully people's comments have always been very complementary.

lizardqueenie Thu 05-Nov-09 21:33:19

Hi there

I am half Jamaican half white English and I have always had people asking me about my "tan" or trying to make polite enquires about where I am from with quite a range of guesses as to whether I am Spanish, Greek, Indian....

I just have said like you - no I haven't been away, this is my what I look like all year around and people are usually a bit embarrassed like they should have known or something, but if they've just met you then why would they? I wouldn't think that these kinds of questions are racist. Really it shouldn't matter where someone is from, but if it is said as a friendly & genuine compliment then it wouldn't seem fair to take it in any other way.

Hope this helps

Nefret Fri 15-Jan-10 10:30:53

Well I am English but I have quite dark skin and people are always asking me if I have been on holiday. My girls are half Turkish so they have dark skin too and they get the same comments. I just say we haven't been away and that we are always that colour.

I can't see why anyone would say it was racist, I just think it is people making conversation.

Some people even ask where I am from as they can see the girls don't look completely English. I still don't think any comments like this could be thought of as racist. Nosey maybe but not racist wink

Sometimes people read racism into everything and that is a sad thing. Why shouldn't you be able to comment on skin colour or ethnicity without being branded a racist

MrsMattie Fri 15-Jan-10 10:34:30

My son is mixed race - Jamican/Guyanese/Irish - and looks sort of vaguely Mediterannean. People often comment on his lovely tan and ask where his lovely curls come from.

I don't see it as racist, but I do think people who make comments about others complexion, hair etc are a bit insensitive. I'd never comment on it.

mehdismummy Fri 15-Jan-10 10:48:03

thats not racist i am always asked where i am from!!! i apparently dont look english!!! i have also been asked where my parents are from!! my ds is half algerian and people often comment!!

nilam Fri 05-Feb-10 20:20:26

I also get comments about what a brown child you have. Or some comments about the importance of sunprotection( dont know the english world but I guess you understand). My dd is a mix between swedish and pashtun.

chipmonkey Fri 05-Feb-10 20:52:51

I asked someone once if he had been away and it turned out he was mixed race.blush In my defence this was in rural Ireland and there weren't a huge number of mixed-race people in Ireland at the time.And although his skin was dark, his features were definitely Irish. I did feel stupid though!

woodyandbuzz Fri 05-Feb-10 21:03:45

My MIL does this. It is not racism in her case, she is just quite blunt and says what she sees, usually without thinking.

She met a mixed race baby and told the mother that the baby's skin was a nice colour - she was just saying what she saw and thought, a bit lacking in tact but no harm intended. My FIL was horrified and wanted the ground to swallow him up.

I think it is a little more off to start asking where someone is from etc. My MIL doesn't do that. Although I imagine most people don't mean any harm by it.

itsfridayiwanttotalkbumsex Fri 05-Feb-10 21:24:37

This happens to my mother ALL the time!! My mum has a medical condition that means that she produces excess melanin - she appears black in colouring almost, especially in the summer. Of course she doesn't have black "features", which i know is a bit of a stereo typical thing to say, but it maybe explains the comments.

People say "OH my word, where have you BEEN, what a beautiful tan" they are not being racist, they are being complimentary, but i am hmm because she has also suffered plenty of racist comments in the past and actually been threatened with a knife and told to fuck off back where she came from angry. So anyway, my mum will be "i haven't been anywhere" and instead of just leaving it people just go on and on "oh but surely you didnt get that brown around here" and things like that, oh and "you are soooo lucky" bla bla bla. It doesn't even look like a tan. Sometimes we just ignore it, but sometimes i wait til my mum is out of earshot and say "actually she has a life threatening medical condition that causes here to be that colour" Then enjoy watching people squirm grin. Bit mean of me really as people are just being nice confused but i get pissed off when they wont accept her initial answer.

pawarmum Wed 03-Nov-10 19:55:25

i get this with my children a lot, varying shades of a tan no less, one person even thought i must have put less cream on dd1 than dd2, as she is slightly darker

mixed race - im 1/4 indian, and then a mix of french, english and italian, dh is northern indian - quite fair. dd1 is dh colour with brown eyes, dd2 is inbetween with green eyes , and ds is blonde blue eyed and fair but with a honey glow - so i have a rainbow of tanned !! kids

roundthehouses Wed 03-Nov-10 20:06:39

No, quite the opposite.. I live in spain and am naturally very pale and more noticeable for the fact that I avoid the sun like the plague so in summer as the general population goes from natural olive skinned to mahogany i stand out more and more. I get comments ALL summer long about how white I am, how pale, need to get some sun etc etc blah blah. It is vaguely annoying - I feel like its all a bit 1980s to be going on about the need to get a tan?! hmm i also say yeah well, this IS my natural skin colour and I am happy with it hmm

ZeroMistletoeZeroTinsel Mon 06-Dec-10 07:59:57

Its not really racist I don't think, just perhaps a bit careless. I am of Indian origin and once or twice people have asked me about my tan because they thought I was white confused but the only people to do it were quite old and doddery.

Sadly, more people, some of them younge, have said "but where are you REALLY from" which I think is pretty racist as I'm born and bred in England and haven't even ever been to India on holiday.

ZeroMistletoeZeroTinsel Mon 06-Dec-10 07:59:58

Its not really racist I don't think, just perhaps a bit careless. I am of Indian origin and once or twice people have asked me about my tan because they thought I was white confused but the only people to do it were quite old and doddery.

Sadly, more people, some of them younge, have said "but where are you REALLY from" which I think is pretty racist as I'm born and bred in England and haven't even ever been to India on holiday.

StarlightPrincess Tue 14-Dec-10 20:22:20

I get that all the time! I'm 1/4 black, but people think I'm white with a tan or greek/turkish for some reason.

kittenshaped Fri 14-Jan-11 10:42:15

I don't think its racist in any way, its exactly the same as enquiring about someones accent.
I get that all the time and its a bit annoying when people seem to get angry that im well spoken and not really geordie when they find out im from newcastle, but i can understand why they're curious

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