Confessions of a Girl Who Went to Prom With an Orange Spray Tan

Prom is easily one of the biggest nights of the school year and it's definitely a night you will remember forever.

And with such a monumental evening, there is obviously a lot of time, money and effort that goes into getting ready. Which is why, I really regret getting a major spray tan the night before mine.

Girls Prom Picture Junior Year Spray Tan

Before we get to prom night, let me paint a picture for you. I have very fair skin (you can check out my Instagram here), and at the time, I was highlighting my hair a lovely shade of Paris Hilton blonde—I was in high school in the mid '00s, and I swear it was super "in" then. I'm also from Southern California, and most of my friends were naturally tan and (I thought) they looked like Roxy surf models with gorgeous blonde hair and olive skin.

Needless to say, I was always trying to look like someone I wasn't. And the more I tried to fit in, the more I ended up standing out. Here's a picture of me freshman year with highlighted, strawberry blonde hair and fair skin (I'm on the left.)

Allison McNamara Freshman Year School Picture

My desire to be tan didn't just start in high school… I have wanted to be tan for as long as I remember. In the eighth grade, I experimented with sunless tanner for the first time and it was a total disaster. I had to wear a uniform to school and, at the time, they didn't let girls wear pants (what the heck?) so I had to go to school in my skirt uniform with my orange streaky legs, which was so mortifying! I remember blaming it on my little sister in front of all my friends, who could totally see right through my lie. They found my weakness and therefore always teased me about it, which broke my (pasty white) eighth grade heart.

You think I would have learned my lesson back then, but I was still determined to get tan. I spent so much time laying out in my backyard in high school, with little to no results (because I'm, um, pale and don't tan—what was I even thinking?)

Then my sophomore year of high school, a little thing called Mystic Tan opened up near me, which was one of the first ever places that offered spray tans applied by a machine. Was this the way for me to finally look tan and "beautiful?" I would have given just about anything a shot. I fell in love with Mystic Tan with the first spray. And believe me when I say that I will never forget that spray tan smell. I started off easy with a level one tan, pictured below, which was already drastically darker than my normal complexion.

Allison Sophomore year spray tan with mystic tan

Allison McNamara Sophomore Prom Mystic Tan

But slowly, I started getting them more and more often.  I worked my way up to a level two after a few months or so, and by my junior prom, I was addicted to spray tanning and I was going twice a week and getting a level three. Such a mistake. Just look at these pictures!

Allison McNamara Orange Tan Spray Tan Prom

Prom Spray Tan Allison mcNamara

Allison McNamara Prom Date Spray Tan Junior Year

Looking back, there are so many things that make me sad about these photos. I see a self-conscious teenager who so desperately wanted to fit in and was unhappy in her own skin. I see someone who hated her skin color so much, that she would rather be orange than pale. And I also see someone who was scared to embrace who she really was, and also someone who clearly had an addiction and distorted view of reality.

The other bummer is that these photos are what I have to look back on from high school, and I'm still haunted by some of these pictures. Do you see the handprint on my arm? Oh, my goodness!

Allison mcNamara spray tan prom junior year

It took me a long time to feel comfortable in my own, very pale skin. But now, I love the way I look, and I go to crazy lengths to stay pale and out of the sun—oh, the irony! Now, I'm not saying that you shouldn't spray tan before prom to give yourself a pretty glow, but think twice before you go to great lengths to change your appearance before a big night like this one because the real you is the best you! Embrace your individuality and run with it, because in the end, it's those very differences that make you stand out in a crowd.

For real shock value, here is me then and now.

Allison Side by Side Then and Now Prom


And while we're talking about spray tans, Paris Hilton and all things '00s, click HERE to find out if Juicy sweatsuits are making a comeback.