- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Woodsman? Sailor? Trailblazer?

Wan no more, John Kerry has emerged with a tan so robust, so luscious that it has some wondering whether the hue originated in a bottle rather than the great outdoors.

“Look very pumpkin-fied to me, and hideous,” noted one blogger at www.sunless.com, a Web site devoted to the fine art of tanning by chemical means.

Mr. Kerry’s campaign headquarters had no comment on the phenomenon, perhaps meant to lend Mr. Kerry the hearty appearance that suggested he had been, say, out clearing brush.

His possible foray into self-tanning was a topic of curiosity among sunless tanning aficionados yesterday.

“Oh, anytime you want to look rested, youthful, sexy and full of magnetism, why, of course you go for an instant tan. And I bet Mr. Kerry got a Mystic tan, which takes 60 seconds but lasts for a week,” said Gloria Starr, a Palm Beach, Fla.-based image consultant who counts executives at Procter & Gamble and Levi Strauss among her clients.

For the uninitiated, such tans usually begin as a liquid that is airbrushed onto the skin in a booth, producing a tan considered customized in tone and intensity.

If Mr. Kerry has gotten a “Mystic” tan, he will be in true show-biz company: It’s the official “sunless tan” of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Meanwhile, the Drudge Report proclaimed yesterday that the senator from Massachusetts had gone on “orange alert,” citing a Harvard Crimson report that noted, “College Dems who met Kerry were surprised by his tan skin and tall stature.”

But the Florida-based Matt Drudge would have none of it.

“Just days before Dem presidential hopeful John Kerry is set to take the stage in a debate opener projected to be seen by 70 million, photos show the senator dramatically taking on color,” observed Mr. Drudge, wondering whether Mr. Kerry had been campaigning in the Rust Belt.

The candidate’s sudden change in complexion has come under fire before, though.

“Kerry’s claims are as phony as the tan he sported on ‘Meet the Press’ last Sunday,” said Jonathan Grella, spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican.

And that was in April, back when the nation wondered whether Mr. Kerry had taken a Botox treatment to smooth facial wrinkles.

Mr. Kerry’s skin tone also annoyed critics suspicious of his Vietnam service. Front Page magazine noted in February that he was “hardly in Vietnam long enough to get a good tan.”

Others have been singled out for lousy tans, though. Hollywood actresses Charlize Theron and Sandra Bullock were criticized at the Oscars earlier this year for sporting fake tans that were too bronzy, unnaturally orange or looked like a “creamed doughnut,” according to the E! Entertainment cable network.

“You can get a negative reaction to any little improvements. Supposing Mr. Kerry got a hair transplant?” Miss Starr asked. “Maybe Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry have had their teeth capped. What’s the difference?”

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