Post Reply What is the difference pale skin and fair skin?
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22 / M / Cali
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Posted 10/19/17
What is the difference between pale, fair and porcelain skin? People say that pale skin is unattractive but fair and porcelain is very attractive but isn't it all the same? It looks the same to me. What's the difference.
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21 / F / Askran Kingdom
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Posted 10/19/17
Pretty sure it's just nuance and personal feelings. I don't really see anything except synonyms myself.
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25 / F / PA, USA
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Posted 10/20/17
The word "pale" tends to be used to indicate that a person looks sickly, is unusually fair-skinned, that it appears unnatural, or that their paleness doesn't suit their overall look. "Sickly" is most common.
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39 / Inside your compu...
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Posted 10/20/17
The difference between fat and horizontally-challenged
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24 / M / Abyss
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Posted 10/20/17

Cardamom_Ginger wrote:

The word "pale" tends to be used to indicate that a person looks sickly, is unusually fair-skinned, that it appears unnatural, or that their paleness doesn't suit their overall look. "Sickly" is most common.


I tend to agree, when I hear "pale" I think sick.

"You look pale today, are you okay? Do you have a fever?"

Fair skinned/porcelain makes me think of someone with a healthy color to their skin, but white as a plate.
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Posted 10/20/17
I think the best answer would be that it depends on the context they're being used in -- the situation, the people involved and their particular linguistic habits, etc. Definitions are generally amorphous blobs that have a lot of overlap and no clear boundaries, and each use of a word won't encompass the whole definition but an area within it.

Without doing a corpus linguistics study it's not really possible to give a super definite answer to all the differences in usage (intuition is often wrong), but as others have noted "pale" can be used for "sickly", which "fair" will probably not be used for. However, "pale" won't always carry this connotation when it's used. Similarly, I would guess that "porcelain" would sometimes carry connotations of "fragile" and "feminine", but I can't say anything about that definitively.
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Posted 10/20/17

Dark_Alma wrote:

I tend to agree, when I hear "pale" I think sick.

"You look pale today, are you okay? Do you have a fever?"

Fair skinned/porcelain makes me think of someone with a healthy color to their skin, but white as a plate.


To add to that, "pale" tends to indicate a lack of blood flow that accompanies a green/blue/dusky undertone to the skin. "Fair" likely accompanies a healthy red undertone, and porcelain will either indicate obvious use of makeup or skin that's free of blemishes.
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23 / M / U.S.A.
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Posted 10/20/17
Pale skin? Unattractive?

Nah.
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25 / F / Canada
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Posted 10/20/17
Personally, I feel pale tends to be used when someone is abnormally lighter than before (e.g. due to illness), whereas fair tends to be used more for people who are naturally light. I suppose both words are basically similar, though I feel like "pale" has more of a negative connotation to it because it usually implies something is wrong with someone, like them being sick.
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22 / AH / Shipyard
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Posted 10/20/17
It's really just the connotations of the words that are different. Pale tends to have a negative connotation, while fair and porcelain have possitve connotations. It just depends whether or not the person doing the describing thinks whoever they're looking at has pretty skin or not.
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