As seasons change from summer to fall and fall to winter, it isn’t the weather that most teenage girls miss, but rather the sun kissed tan slowly fading from their skin. There is a notion in many young girls’ heads that tan is better… tan is prettier… tan is what they want to be.
But is it really? Are tanning beds and the imminent threat of skin cancer what they really want?
I understand the desire to tan. As the winter months drag on and on and we turn into ghostly white creatures, the synthetic color method is tempting. Being tan is something that we all link with the carefree happiness of summer.
But there comes a time when we have to distinguish between what is healthy and what is just too much.
I would venture to guess that the majority of girls know that tanning beds come with a high threat of skin cancer. The close proximity to ultraviolent lighting is not natural and not something our skin can adjusts to well. I could list all the studies that link tanning to an increased risk of skin cancer, but we already know them! The question then becomes, if girls know the risks, why do they continue to tan?
Ms. Lisa Davenport, the head nurse at Bethel High School, confesses her concern about tanning. “I worry about these girls in the future, and what consequences they will pay,” she says.
And yet, fully aware of these consequences that could very well come with tanning, one avid user, Cara McAteer (’12), defends her love of the tanning beds. “It’s just really relaxing; it’s like I’m laying on the beach. I know the risks, but honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with my skin other than the fact that it actually improves breakouts and stuff. So I figure why not?”
So what is the distinguishing point where tanning just becomes unhealthy? Experts have concluded that anything more than three sessions a week is not necessary to maintain a tan. Repeatedly frying your skin more than this is excessive and not needed.
As these prolonged winter months drag on and you make the decision to make a trip to the tanning beds, make sure it is no more than the health limit and that you take all safety precautions like wearing eye protection and using protective lotion. And also ask yourself if looking “sunkissed” is really worth the long-term health risks.