People often look at someone who has a sun kissed glow and think of them as looking fit, healthy and even slim.
A tanning salon chain in my town ran the slogan "because tanned fat looks better!" - encouraging people of all shapes and sizes to get a tan, rather than advising those heavier folks among us to keep skin cancer and premature aging off their health resume.
Sunset Tan, a tanning salon chain with a popular reality show in it's second season, talks up the "health" aspects of tanning in their sales pitches. And no matter what you say, or what the experts know to be true, the notion of tanned skin meaning we're all healthier, sexier...and thinner, is hard to dispel. Many of us ignore the evidence and march to the tanning salon regardless.
Personally, I love a tan. I settle for the fake variety nowadays but can completely understand why people confuse tanning skin with health and vitality. It's not just a media message - while some don't care either way, many people genuinely feel that tanned skin looks more attractive.
In a story from Medical News Today (www.medicalnewstoday.com), it has been found that tanning salons are omitting the real facts about skin caner and other negatives aspects of tanning in order to make a hefty profit from consumers who believe the hype of a healthy tan.
Three new papers will be published in the October edition of Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research that show evidence of the dangers of tanning beds and the UV lights used in them. The authors of the papers want to ban anyone under the age of 18 from using commercial beds and any kind of advertising that promotes tanning beds as safe.
Research has shown that melanoma - the deadliest of skin cancers, can be caused by tanning beds.
If you do go into a tanning salon - look at the employees. Often young, thin, blonde, dressed in the latest fashions (albeit the trashy latest fashions, at times)...and always deeply tanned. Free tanning is often a 'perk' of employment. They are selling a lifestyle and a theory - "look like us and you'll have a better life."
We can only hope the tanning industry is reigned in a bit, much like the tobacco companies. I think it's only a matter of time. Ultimately, as cigarette packs have large warnings on them regarding heart disease, stroke, cancer and pregnancy issues, tanning salons may well have to do the same.
Should tanning salons have to clearly post warnings about the dangers of indoor tanning?
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