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When Mothers and Daughters Go Indoor Tanning Together

By HERWriter
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Skin, Hair & Nails related image Photo: Getty Images

Mothers and daughters frequently have activities that bond them. Shopping, going out to lunch or watching movies together are great ways to connect with one’s daughter. However, a recent study showed that daughters who were first introduced to indoor tanning with their moms have a much higher incidence of continuing the habit despite warnings that indoor tanning contributes to skin cancer. Not to mention the fact that “the World Health Organization has labeled indoor tanning as a class one carcinogen.”

The study at University of East Tennessee State University explored how old female students were when they first began indoor tanning and who had they gone with the first time. The researchers found that almost 40 percent of the 227 students had gone with their mothers for their first visit with the average age being 14. Another 32 percent had gone with a friend and 20 percent had gone alone, with their average age being 16.

What was significant about the study is that the female students who began indoor tanning by going with their mother were five times as likely to be considered heavy tanners (going twice a month or more) than the other students. Combine this with the observation that daughters started going at an earlier age if they went with their mothers means even more exposure to the harmful UV rays.

The conclusion brought forth with the study is that women may still not be fully aware of the harm indoor tanning can cause. It doesn’t seem likely that a mother would purposely expose a daughter to such a risk so more education aimed at these groups is needed.

Women tan for different reasons. Many believe a tanned look is more attractive than pale skin. Additionally, research has shown that some people become “addicted” to tanning and feel less good about themselves when they are not regularly going.

At a Northeastern University, 421 college students were given questionnaires regarding their tanning habits; 229 students were users of indoor tanning beds. Approximately 31 to 39 percent of those students who used indoor tanning beds met the criteria that would classify them as addicted to tanning.

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Thanks Susan. I think mothers who take their daughters tanning are really not comprehending the risk they are subjecting their daughter to. Plus, they are re-enforcing that it is worthwhile to take risks to be "beautiful" or what we think beauty is. This can extend to taking chances by having high risk plastic surgery in a desire for better looks. Moms have to serve as role models to teach our daughters that protecting one's health must always come first.

January 15, 2011 - 9:28pm
HERWriter Guide

Hi Michelle

Thank you for this article. Back in the 90s when I was a 20-something, I saw lots of mom/daughter trips to the tanning salons. Mom was usually looking as leathery as the purse she carried and you could tell that daughter was a decade away from being the same.

I was a "tanorexic" for about two years but still also thought it was weird that mothers would encourage their daughters to do this. But then again, the mothers often smoked with their daughters too and went cocktailing with them. Mom trying to pretend she's a peer of her 20-something daughter is kind of sad.

I'd never let my kids near a tanning bed while in my care and certainly wouldn't go tanning with them when they were adults. Even when our daughters are grown, we will always serve as role models.

Thanks for this great reminder,

January 14, 2011 - 2:17pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.