Summer is fading away for many of us and like many of us, I am clinging on to my daily moisturiser that also gives me a light, all-over than throughout winter. As much as I want to be pale-and-interesting, I actually much prefer a slight glow for myself, of the non-orange variety.
The notion of 'tanorexia' and 'tanorexic' is fairly new. The words are a combination of anorexia and tanning, and refer to (usually) young women who will do anything to look deeply tanned, including baking in tanning beds year round, as well as lying out, often unprotected, in direct sunlight, for hours at a time. They take huge risks with skin cancer and premature aging.
And some people beleive these actions to be addictions - pretty much like drugs, alcohol, gambling and the like.
Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia did a study on 'tanorexia' (a term meical professionals dislike). The study "examined 400 students between the ages of 18 and 24 according to the same parameters used to define substance abuse. Trying to assess symptoms of withdrawal, obsessive patterns, and temperament related to desiring a “healthy-looking” skin shade. We have known for years that indoor tanning beds are still harmful to your health, but there are more people willing to take those risks than dare to show their true colors. The students from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond were asked questions similar to, “Does you feel the need to spend increased amounts of time in the sun to achieve a ‘perfect’ tan?” or “If you believe that skin cancer can be acquired through tanning, does that stop or lessen your time in tanning beds or out in the sun?” Along with questions about Body Mass Index (BMI), smoking habits, and exercise, out of the 400 teens and young adults questioned, 27 percent showed signs of being “tanorexic”.
Carolyn Heckman, who authored the study had this to say...""People value attractiveness and they're willing to take health risks to be attractive, especially since the health risks may not show up for 20 or 30 years…they want to look good now." Heckman goes on to say that some scientists are hypothesizing about tanning possibly being linked to the release of endorphins in the brain creating a similar effect to a high that runners can encounter during their exercise. Tanning could also be helping to raise the moods caused by a weather-induced depression of those who never want summer to end. "Tanning may feel relaxing or people might have seasonal affective disorder in the winter and they like to indoor tan to help their mood," Heckman continues, "So those are possibilities of why people might want to tan besides appearance."
It's easy to understand how many may find the notion of being legitimately addicted to tanning as absurd. How can irresponsible and perhaps vain behavior be excused with a kind of doctor's note of 'addiction'. And obviously there can be no genetic excuse either.
However, people DO in fact believe these behaviors to belong in the family of addictions. Warmth and sunlight definitely have an impact on the human psyche.
What do you think?
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