Irish (Heritage) People Have Two Looks: Pinky-White and Lobster

I think that the title of this post says it all. People of Irish heritage literally have two looks: pinky-white-paleness and, for lack of a better word, lobster-colored—or should I say, lobstah (with a thick Bahston accent).

We don’t turn a nice medium brown shade of tan in the sun, like other ethnicities (P included!), we just cook. It’s not fun.

I’ve had my run-ins with the sun before. Two incidents in particular come to mind: in Kenya and on my way to becoming engaged. I’m not anticipating another nasty sun episode, but now that the sun has finally reached New England I’ve realized I have to play it smart (wicked smaht) for the next few weeks—because my wedding gown is strapless, but I always wear sleeves. I never really thought about my arms, neck and face being more pinky-red then my shoulders, chest and back. I might be multi-colored by July 10th!

I guess I’ll have to slather on sunscreen. Or wear a hat and light weight long sleeves. Perhaps this will be a good new routine for me.

It’s unfair because P rarely has to deal with the less pleasant qualities of the sun. Granted, the sun’s rays are still harmful to darker skinned people, but it seems to give them less pain if they are out all day in it. I remember the first time P had a “sunburn.” It took all day in the strong equatorial sun of Kenya. At the end of the day he said, “Ow, my neck kind of hurts.”

Me: “I think you have a sunburn.”

Him: “I’ve never had a sunburn before, ouch, this is what it feels like? It kind of hurts!”

Welcome to the club.

Likewise, I remember small children in Kenya and Tanzania asking me questions about my freckles, my sun-induced pinkness, and my clothing-induced whiteness. They would ask me, “Why are you so many colors? I’m just one color.”

“Hmmm,” I’d ponder out loud, “Mzungus are kind of like chameleons. Our skin likes to change.” (Come to think of it, I probably gave a few small kids mzungu nightmares).

Anyway, on my wish list for future potential children– I hope they get his skin, at least they can be spared the Celtic curse of lobsterdom!

9 responses to “Irish (Heritage) People Have Two Looks: Pinky-White and Lobster

  1. I burn pretty quickly, too (and am 1/4 Irish), so I’ve had to teach A how to treat someone with sunburn — how to touch it (more importantly, NOT to touch it), how to put cream on it, etc. I also have a big family history of nasty-looking moles, and my mom had a malignant melanoma (English: skin cancer) when she was a little younger than me…and I’ve already had two moles out of my back (which, thankfully, came back cancer-free).

    The week before the wedding, I was SO PARANOID that I was going to burn my face! I’ve been trying to get into the habit of wearing hats and sunscreen, but I definitely put something on every time I went outside that week!

    I don’t think A has had sunburn yet…my Indian BFF got a sunburn once spending all day on open asphalt at an amusement park (but of course it was a tiny section, not that bad, and gone by morning). A really hates lotions and things, so he’s very unhappy when I make him put sunscreen on…but I did take pity on him and get a spray sunscreen so he doesn’t have to rub it into my back so much.

    • americanepali

      I hate creams as well, which is one reason I’ve gotten myself in trouble a few times with the sun. I just hate the feel of the greasiness on my hands. But now P is like the sunscreen nazi of our house. After seeing how pathetic I can be when battling strong sunshine, he scolds me until I put it on.

  2. When I worked in India, the small daughter of one of my neighbours used to cry and call me “the ghost” when she saw me. I’m not sure how she would have reacted if I had ever had sunburn and peeling skin to deal with!

  3. I say that all the time to Jayesh… that I hope our children gets his skin tone so we can spend hours at the pool and beach and not have to worry too much about irritating sun burns!

  4. The Irish Tan-that dark red look, with increased freckling.

    As a German, I get the best of both world. Super pale skin/green eyes in the winter and bronzed goddess in the summer. I have really burned maybe a handful of times in my life. I am very good about sunblock though, don’t want to get cancer!

  5. I have met many Irish,germna, American,British, French, Swiss friends in my life but never had that vision to understand the details presented here. It may be cultural note I missed.

  6. awaiting the priviledge

  7. I, like you, am pinky white. I was recently pleased to know that I do not burn in the Indian sun the same as in American sun lol. I don’t understand it but I can be in the sun much longer than 15 minutes here and not burn (without sunscreen). I’ve done it for 5 months now. I got my first sunburn over the weekend and even that was no the same.I didn’t turn lobster like usual I got almost a fluorescent pink on my neck and a dull roasted red on my hands. My hubby said I looked weird lol. He’s never seen sunburn before (which just makes me sick lol).

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