My college roommate used to say that “tan fat looks better than untanned fat,” as she headed outside to catch some rays. That was almost three decades ago, before we knew what we know now about the negative impact of sun on our skin. But studies show that despite growing concerns about skin cancer, the majority of us still find tanned people more attractive and think people with tans look healthier.
I wonder if those survey respondents have been following the story of the New Jersey mom, accused of bringing her daughter into a tanning salon, who many are now calling a “tanorexic.” Apparently some people are addicted to food, some to alcohol or drugs, and some to tanning.
I have no opinion about the case, since I don’t know enough specific details. But I will share that I was struck by how very unhealthy this woman appears in all the photos I’ve seen. I don’t know her personally; I don’t know why she tans as often as she does; I don’t know if she thinks she looks healthier or thinner or more attractive this way.
But what I do know is that doctors will tell you that a tan is an outward sign of skin damage. And that the sun is a known carcinogen.
Do I think I’d look better with a bit of color on my uber-pale skin? Maybe. Okay, probably. But as a three-time skin cancer survivor, my days of intentionally exposing myself to the sun without protection are long over.
- One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
- One dies of melanoma every 62 minutes.
- Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than of all other cancers combines.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and today is Melanoma Monday. So today I am asking you to consider changing the paradigm that tan looks better than au natural. Or to at least choose to get your tan from a bottle. And I am encouraging you to take steps to prevent skin cancer for yourself and your loved ones. The research is very clear: most skin cancer can be prevented by practicing sun protection. And it is never too late to start protecting your skin. And with that said, I’ll hop off my soapbox now:)
To learn more:
Thoughts about the Jersey tanning mom? Have you or anyone you know been diagnosed with skin cancer? Any personal crusades that you’d like to share today?
Photo credit [myFOXny]