Pasty. With one word, an instant emotional connection occurs. A word some degrade themselves with when spring comes and their skin is pale. According to Jen Adkins, mother and founder of Not Pasty, we’re not pasty. We’re simply the color of our skin. No more, no less. After a life-altering experience, Jen is now working to change people’s perceptions of what it is to be pasty – and feel beautiful with the skin you were given.
As a redhead with fair skin and many sunburns as a child, sun safety has always been important to me, especially now as the mom of two blond hair, fair boys. As a writer who focuses on skin care, I’ve always been a bit obsessive with sun protection. Most of my readers are interested in learning about wrinkle prevention and I love telling them that sunscreen is the #1 anti-aging product on the market. But recently, my need to stay on top of sun safety took on a whole new level.
Last year, my family of four grew by one with the addition of our amazing then 5-year-old daughter. It was love at first sight, literally. The very first night we were together, I noticed that there were quite a few little brown moles on her skin. Later at a checkup, her doctor decided they were probably clogged pores, but referred us to a dermatologist to be sure.
The dermatologist almost instantly told me she thought my daughter had skin cancer. Biopsies confirmed her thoughts. Those “clogged pores” turned out to be basal cell carcinomas and her body was full of them – hundreds, head to toe.
It’s quite life-changing to all of a sudden have a 5-year-old with skin cancer. Skin cancer is an adult cancer, or so I thought, but I was wrong. It took us some time to figure out how to do life with skin cancer and of course we’re still learning.
Imagine knowing that going out in the sun will increase the number of cancers tumors on your child’s body, yet also knowing that your child doesn’t care about that and just wants to be a normal child. It is a tough balance trying to come up with ways to allow her to be that normal child while taking on the adult responsibility of keeping her skin safe. Our sun safety habits as a family have taken top priority, not just for our daughter, but for all five of us.
In June of 2013, after living with skin cancer for over a year and writing about skin for more than five years, I launched a new website called Not Pasty. We chose the name Not Pasty as a jab at those who use the term “pasty” to degrade fair skin. Not Pasty is about sun safety, self-love and even a bit of beauty. It’s a place where women can go to learn about enjoying sun safely, share their stories of self-love and encourage others in their journey of self-acceptance.
Because I write about the skin for millions of readers and live with skin cancer in my household every day, switching the focus of general skin topics to sun safety was an easy step for me and I have a lot of knowledge to share. My goal at Not Pasty is to tell sun truths, not fads or myths. I always fall on the side of caution and am constantly in contact with top doctors and experts around the country when questions arise.
I want Not Pasty to be the place people go to learn and discuss sun safety – where people can learn facts and tips, share what sun protection products they are using and learn about new ones. And we love when women share their personal stories – we call them Real Stories – about how they walked through the hard and came out ahead.
Most importantly, I want to encourage women to see their natural skin color as unique and beautiful and come to realize how ridiculous it is to brown their skin in the sun in order to achieve some silly idea of media-pushed beauty.
I’d love to be a part of changing the way the world thinks about natural skin tones, and I’d love to have you be a part of it with us.