I never understand how it is that Czech girls can look so good at this time of year. We are in the depths of the bleak midwinter, and most normal people are looking flaky, and blotchy, with chapped lips. This look is in many cases set off by a cold sore. My skin almost goes translucent, it gets so pale.
But not Czech girls. They seem to bound about the capital in the dreary winter months sporting an enviably healthy complexion and a mysteriously rosy glow. Having spent a couple of winters here, I am yet to be let in on the secret.
But judging by the number of tanning salons or ‘solaria’ in this city, I don’t think I’m too far off discovering it. But just because I have an inkling of what Czech girls do to look so good, doesn’t mean that I too will be able to transform myself into a sun-kissed goddess à la tchèque.
In fact, I once tried dragging my peely-wally Scottish body down to one of these tanning establishments, and I think it’s fair to say that I didn’t come out looking quite like the poster suggested that I would.
Winters here are heavier going than they are back in Scotland, and so I paid a solarium a visit, part out of curiosity at this national sport of tanning, part in a bid to keep seasonal affective disorder at bay. Upon arrival, the lady behind the counter took one sneering look at me, and advised the minimum power setting, for the minimum amount of time. I still came out with burnt kneecaps – an altogether rare and unpleasant phenomenon. Lying in that little blue booth I thought I might start hyperventilating. It felt like I was being buried alive. Either that, or I was one of the unfortunate bluebottles that got too close to the UV light in the butcher’s shop, and got zapped.
And I repeat, the outcome was not pretty, unless you personally find the anemic-with-angry-red-patches look appealing.
While Czech girls might be known for the fruitful relationship they enjoy
with a sun bed, Scottish girls are better known for their use and abuse of
fake tan. But I’m staying true to my roots, and I’m all for the latter
option. My legs may look like a pair of outsized, streaky, carrots for the
entirety of the winter, but better carrots than crab-sticks, I say. Maybe
after a few more years of living here a Czech might let me into the secret
of looking healthy - and not frazzled or scary - throughout the winter
months. But until then, you know what they say - the future’s bright, the
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