Covered in Orange Fig Leaves

Dan and I are preparing to go to Mexico on vacation, and I’ve been dreading seeing my glowing white skin in a swimsuit.  I’ve got naturally fair skin, and it’s positively radiant this time of year, not having seen sunlight for at least 5 months. 

Before our wedding, I caved to my coworkers’ advice and went tanning.  Having vowed never to join the ranks of the tanorexics, I felt like a traitor as I donned the strange looking bug eyed goggles and smooshed my naked body into the glowing machine.  The tanning bed was my last resort after seeing that my white wedding dress looked darker than I was.

Instead of visiting the tanning salon, I decided to try another approach this time.  I’m getting my tan from a bottle.

As he watched me slather the lotion all over myself, Dan made a very surprising (and slightly insulting) remark:  “Who are you going to fool, anyway?” 

He was right.  I’ve been doing this for the past several days now, and so far, I’ve turned a slight orange-brown color.  It’s not quite a tan, but at least I’m not brilliant white.  I don’t think that anybody would assume that I’m a native Mexican, though, and I think that was his point. 

I recently listened to a sermon that my pastor delivered on Genesis 3, the chapter on the fall of man.  Pastor Mark went into detail about man’s use of “fig leaves” to hide and cover sins, which really don’t hide anything from the omniscient and omnipresent God (click here to listen to the sermon).

I wonder if my tan from a tube is a sort of “fig leaf.”  I’m using it to cover the fact that I’m not exactly perfect, that I fall short of the ideal. 

When Dan asked me who I was trying to fool, he had a great point.  I certainly wasn’t going to fool him because he was standing there, watching me smear the smelly junk on myself every night.  The people at the resort are going to spot a fake bake from a mile away (I don’t think the sun typically turns people orange.).

But I can’t seem to bring myself to stop using the lotion.  I guess I’m a tanorexic afterall.  I suppose it’s the same reason I can’t stop using the other fig leaves in my life, things I realize aren’t fooling anybody, not even myself.

For example, if I’m having a bad day on Sunday, that fake smile I put on my face the moment I enter church, that’s a fig leaf.  I have a curtain over the entry to my kitchen that I close if there are unexpected visitors, and it’s a mess in there.  That’s one of my favorite fig leaves.

I think we all have fake tans or fig leaves, means of covering our sins to try to fool God, ourselves, and others into thinking we’re better than we are.  The challenge is to recognize that we don’t need them and that we’re fooling nobody.  We just look silly, orange, and worse off than before. 

Oh God, may I have the humility to approach you as I am, to take off the shameful coverings that keep me from being authentic and real.

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Published in: on January 21, 2008 at 11:34 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. so, when are you planning to go to mexico? also, I heard if you exfoliate before you put the ‘orange glow’ on it helps, but I’m the type just to be white all year round…I guess it doesn’t bother me much, unless I burn 🙂

  2. Oh to be so white my veins make me look like a slab of blue cheese. To stand in a garden in a flowing white gown and be mistaken for a mable statue. To have flawless never tanned skin at 80….bliss.

    Wonder how Paul’s directive to be Greek to the Greeks and Romans to the Romans fits in here?

  3. This is fun. Everybody has tips for how to make this goop look better. I’m not too optimistic, but I’m enjoying your helpful hints.

    Jill, I think Paul must want me to make like the locals and drink tequila.

  4. Amy, you have a great sense of humor! There was a time when I tried to get tans….being a redhead, I got freckles and serious sunburns. And 30 years later I’ve got dry skin, and lots of freckles. I vote for the oh so white skin, it’ll be oh so beautiful still in 40 years. I can’t advise on the bottle tan, I’ve never tried it….but if it keeps you from too many rays of the sun, go for it. And besides, if you drink enough tequila (2 or 3 shots ought to do it) you won’t care what color you are–white or orange!

  5. I confess… I love being tan.
    I know that one day I am going to pay for it… actually I can already see it on my face — the slight wrinkles taking shape.

    I do use sun screen… and God has given me skin that tans quickly.

    Most of my fair skinned friends hate the beach because of the burn factor.

    At least you aren’t letting your skin shade stop you from enjoying the ocean!


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