Coppertone_vintage_adI have a thing about tan lines.

I always have, and given the fact I'm writing this at mid-life, I suppose I always will.

My youth was a slather of baby oil and iodine or Hawaiin Tropic–mercy!  I can still smell glorious coconut just thinking about it!  Some friends swore by Afro Sheen, evidence we'd use just about anything.  On the half hour, crackley and full volume, transistor radios reminded us "Time to turn so you don't burn."

We didn't bake under summer's burner, we broiled. Rotisserie humans.

Dumb as chickens.

These days, while I've shelved the Hawaiian Tropic and always use an SPF of 15 or higher on my face, I still like sun on my shoulders.

Sans the tan lines.

I'm not sure why I loathe tan lines across my décolletage, but I do.  Maybe it's because you never know when you might need to wear your princess dress?  


But, it's not like I'm wearing strapless tops or sundresses every day–I don't own either!

My tan line issues go futher:  I like a tan stomach.  Which is definitely an issue when you're no longer sporting a bikini…

In public. 

That sentence should read, "Which is definitely an issue when you're no longer sporting a bikini in public."

Except if I'm being 100% truthful, it should say, "Which is definitely an issue when you're no longer sporting a bikini in public OR WHERE YOU DON'T KNOW ANYBODY AND DON'T CARE WHAT THEY THINK ANYWAY."

OhyesIdid…this summer during our summer beach vacation, I dug out my old two piece from when I was 15-20 pounds lighter and I wore that sucker in public.

It wasn't like I was strolling the beach giving women reason to feel better about themselves.  Mostly, I shimmied off my beach cover-up while laying prone on a beach chair – quite a spectacle in and of itself – and then melted into my lounger, believing if I couldn't see "you", you couldn't see me.

Perfectly logical, no?

My family is very forgiving, understanding this is just one of my Things.  Everyone has their Things, and No Tan Lines is one of mine. 

When I'm at my neighborhood pool,  however, it's a different story. 

There, I'm inclined to care what people think since I'll likely be facing them at the grocery store that afternoon. 

So I wear a tankini, right?  They cover a multitude of sins and hide – how shall we say it? – problem areas. 

Actually, that's not entirely true; only a Burqini does that.  But we've already established I like sun on my shoulders, not to mention I'm not Muslim.

So, what's all this got to do with why I should learn to act my age?


It was beautiful over the weekend and I decided to spend a bit of that time poolside, wringing out the last drop of summer before fall slips in later this week.

My Grand Plan was to lay out 45 minutes on my back, then flip for 45 minutes on my stomach.  If no tan lines is important to me, it stands to reason even front/back tanning matters, too.

So I do what I always do:  once flat on my back, I untied the strap behind my neck and carefully tucked them under my arms so my top wouldn't slip.  Then I folded the tank part over my bust so my stomach would get a little sun. 

It was only after 45 minutes, when I was about to flip over, that I noticed it.

As I was re-tying my neck strap and unfolding the tank to re-cover my stomach, I happened to notice I was wearing my bathing suit bottoms….


A warm flush totally unrelated to the sun swept over my entire body as I imagined every eyeball at the pool glued to the white lining that usually characterizes the crotch of a bathing suit bottom.

A flashing neon sign….

An oddly displaced scarlet letter….

I heard a thousand disapproving, rightly judgmental tongue clucks, imploring me to please wear a modest one piece appropriate for A Woman My Age.

Horrified and self conscious, I did what anyone in my position would do.

Flat on my back, I shimmied my cover-up back on, hid behind my sunglasses and slithered to the bathroom.  There, I promptly insided-out my bathing suit bottom, finding reason to thank God in this oddest of circumstance when I discovered the lining, in fact, was the color of my bathing suit.

Surely no one could see the seam if it was the same color, as if anyone would have noticed it otherwise! 

Relieved and wearing I don't care like a super hero mask, I strolled back to my chair, shimmied off my cover-up, laid on my stomach, cinched my top just so to get maximum back sun exposure…and started giggling. 

Only me...sigh

About that time I heard an inner, quiet whisper ask Robin, honey, is this a sign to give up your No Tan Line Thing and Start Acting Your Age?

The Quiet Whisperer had a legitimate point.  Either I didn't have the cognitive ability to process what a properly turned garment should look like, or my eyes are so presbyopic I couldn't see the tell-tale inner seam.

After thoughtful consideration I faced the question:   IS it time to forget about tan lines and start acting my age? 





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