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Dark-Skinned Redditor Balks After Light-Skinned Girlfriend Calls Them ‘Offensive’ For Using Sunscreen

Jakob Owens/Unsplash

Colorism is a difficult issue in many cultures.

One person on Reddit, who has dark skin, was shocked to find their light-skinned girlfriend was offended at their use of sunscreen on their darker skin.

The Original Poster (OP), who goes by LateNightDrive9 on the site, was so thrown by the conflict they didn’t know if they were in the right or wrong for the way they handled things. So they went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for perspective.

OP asked:

“AITA for using sunscreen and not telling my girlfriend about it?”

They explained:

“this might sound stupid but hear me out PLEASE!.”

“My girlfriend and I have been together for 6 months. The other day I borrowed some of her sunscreen that was in her purse when she came over because I ran out of subscreen and couldn’t stop by the pharmacy to get some.”

“She caught me and was upset, I apologized and said I ran out of suncsreen and will buy some soon. She said this wasn’t really the main issue then went on to explain that me as someone with dark skin do not need sunscreen and said that she found this offensive to her (she has a light skin) and her background.”

“I was puzzled I said I have bern using sunscreen eversince I was a teenager and she found that ‘offensive’ for some reason. I admitted that I was wrong for bring this up earlier but really didn’t think it was a big deal. she suddenly started arguing with me suggesting I stop using sunscreen because I don’t need it.”

“I said that was stupid because she doesn’t know much about my skin issues amd so unless she’s a doctor then I don’t have to listen to her. She got offended and upset to the point of cancelling hangout together then stormed off.”

“I tried calling her hoping she’d calmed down but she doubled down saying I insulted her and hurt her feelings at the same time. She wanted me to make this situation right and lessen the tension caused by our fight but I haven’t.”

“I’m confused because I didn’t think this was a huge secret to keep since we don’t live together and she doesn’t know much about my routine. AITA though?”

Redditors were then asked to judge who was in the wrong in this conflict based on the following categories:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

And most of them thought OP was not only not in the wrong, but that their girlfriend’s response was truly bizarre.

“NTA. She’s wrong, and the fact that she’s doubling down and refusing to listen to you, who would know more about your own skin than she would, is a red flag. Just because you’re darker skinned doesn’t mean that you’re immune to sunburn or skin cancer.”

“A quick google search yielded this article, which seems to come from a reliable source, and indicates what I said above; you absolutely should be wearing sunscreen, regardless of your skin color.”

“I would present her with this and/or additional sources like it; if she still refuses to listen to you, well… It’s your relationship, OP, but I would consider this a pretty big red flag, and you might want to take some time to think about whether you want to be with someone who won’t listen to you, or to health experts when it comes to your health.”  –ScratchShadow

“NTA. While people with fairer skin might be at higher risk, anyone can get skin cancer or have some risk of sunburn. This is a really odd hill for her to apparently be willing to die on. Edited to add: don’t go through her purse next time, though – ask (I know that wouldn’t have gone well here either way, but I’d always ask before going into someone else’s bag).” –Specific-Succotash8

“NTA”

“This is insane lol. I actually can’t tell if it’s real or not because of how absurd it is. IF it’s real, there are ample sources online available you could send her to prove to her that her reason for being upset is ridiculous— skin colour does not dictate whether or not you need to use sunscreen. The sun doesn’t care what colour you are, enough UV radiation will give anyone skin cancer lol” –MalevolentPeaches

“NTA. People with dark skin need sun screen the same as anyone else, this is a proven fact. She sounds insane anyways. It’s ‘offensive’, you, as a dark skin person, use sun screen in front of her, a light skin person? Hm. Not saying anything but that’s…. I don’t think she’s the one for you.”

“But don’t go through a woman’s purse without asking. Just some advice for the future” –witchlys

“Nta. Everyone should wear sunscreen. That she didn’t know that folks with dark skin also need sunscreen is odd, but an easily corrected issue. That she was offended that you use sunscreen and insisted that she knew your medical/esthetic needs better than you do is a giant red flag that has been set on fire and has sparklers sticking out of it. She should apologize and you should consider yourself fortunate to be rid of her if she doesn’t.” –Irmaplotz

“NTA and yes, it’s as stupid as it sounds, lol. On her. She has no business being ‘offended’…you did nothing to her, sunscreen isn’t a secret. Ask HER why this bothers HER so much, and honestly,.”

“I’d back away real fast. What happens when real issues come up? If this is how she handles sunscreen, you have bigger problems ahead. And as a bonus, if anyone should be offended it’s YOU, that she’s making presumptions about YOUR skin based on YOUR race.” –tinny36

“Yeah, thinking darker skinned people don’t need sunscreen is . . . like, whatever, an assumption people can have, I remember being surprised as an extremely white child growing up in a mostly white town when during half-time at a soccer game one of the girls on my team was re-applying sunscreen. But I was like 10. And I didn’t argue about it. Because who the fu*k even argues about it??”

“Her insistence that she knows better is weird and kinda racist.” –Chiomi

“Your GF is clueless, there is an entire push for better representation of different skin tones in dermatology because skin issues present differently (since you know what all the textbooks have as examples, rarely much diversity) and guess what? dark skinned people can still get sun burned because ANYONE with skin can get a sunburn. NTA, your GF needs to get a clue.” –RubyJuneRocket

“NTA. Wait! WHAT???!!! You are apologizing for not bringing this up earlier? Who talks about sunscreen like it is some kind of admission?”

“Your (former) gf doesn’t know what she is talking about. No matter the color of your skin, it can burn. It can be affected by the sun in various ways. Basicaly, she is asking you to do something that is not safe.”

“Move on! You can do so much better….and it wouldn’t take much!” –patjames904

“NTA, sunscreen is for everyone BECAUSE IT IS UV PROTECTION. Darker skin tone doesn’t mean immune to skin diseases or disorders. Methinks that girlfriend is more embarrassed that she was wrong and tried to dig her heels in because she didn’t want to acknowledge it.” –H4man_C4ctu5

“NTA. The implication that your skin color ‘doesn’t need’ a universal skin protection product strikes me as mildly racist. Furthermore, to say she found it ‘offensive’ after you explained that you had used it your entire life is a different level. This whole situation makes me believe you will be treated much worse about trivial things in the future. Run.” –inagle313

“Bruh wtf. This Is actually a racist line of thinking that even doctors have used in the past. ‘Dark skin is more resistant to the sun’ or ‘dark skinned people have thicker skin’, or ‘dark skinned people are more resistant to pain’ are all things doctors have thought before and they do real world damage to real people.

“Either she gets educated on the matter, or you gotta dump her. She’s out of her mind. NTA” –davidedpg10

“Definitely NTA It’s fair enough to be confused about darker skin tones not needing sun protection (they do) but to get upset & angry at you because of her ignorance. That’s crazy She should be the one apologising to you” –Squinty-Pie_hole

“NTA. Your gf needs some education.. just because you have dark skin doesn’t mean your protected from the negative effects of sun exposure like sunburns, wrinkles and possible skin cancer among other things. She should consider speaking to a dermatologist.” –Aggressive-Scale1157

“NTA- it’s literally not a big deal if someone uses sunscreen or not. I feel like she may want to make it about herself. Her being offended because you’re a darker tone doesn’t sit right with me and makes me feel like she’s trying to play the victim.”

“There shouldn’t have been an argument in the first place and I don’t know why she would cancel plans either. Sounds like her being offended was kind of pulled from her arse and seems a bit spiteful but maybe I’m just thinking too much into it.” –RezeTheGreat

Hopefully OP can avoid conflicts like this in the future.

Written by John Sundholm

John Sundholm is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.