Tanning: Suicide on the Surface

By Garrick Hoffman
Liberal Arts Major

If you’re reading this, summer is either right around the corner or is already here. The advent of the summer invariably denotes that we’ll be stepping outside in the sun and watching as our skin either darkens or reddens. Will you look more like a brownie, or more like a lobster?
However, summer isn’t the only time for doing what so many of us delight in to enhance our (ostensible) sexiness. Winter no doubt involves hitting the booths for an ever-productive hour of tanning, and some quite evidently enjoy this process and result more than others.
But as many of us well know, yet irreverently continue to ignore, is that prolonged exposure to the sun and tanning booths can be incredibly perilous to our health.
The CDC reports that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.Three types of skin cancer, according to the fifth edition of [i]Biology of Humans[i], are:
Basal cell carcinoma (the most common form)
Squamous cell carcinoma (the second most common form)
Melanoma (the least common, yet most dangerous form)
The sun radiates two wavelengths, UV-A and UV-B. The latter is the higher-energy portion, causing skin to burn, and the former is the lower portion, which recent research suggests can potentially weaken the body’s immune system, and thus atrophies its ability to fight melanoma. Tanning booths emit UV-A and the salons claim it’s safer, but with “the apparent link between UV-A and the increased risk of melanoma, the potential danger of these ‘safe’ wavelengths is now obvious,”
Indoor tanning is principally how people tan in the winter, and according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the annual revenue of the indoor tanning industry exceeds $5 billion, with females comprising 71% of indoor tanning patrons. All three skin cancers can be attained via tanning booths. Both the CDC and [i]Biology of Humans[i] firmly admonish that we avoid tanning salons.
So why do people go tanning, if they understand it’s so dangerous?
“It’s something a lot of people sort of look for in the skin tone,” says YouTube vlogger Ashley Jackson. “And it makes me a feel a lot more confident. …It makes me feel a whole lot better.”
“I feel kind of sad for girls who [tan], like they’re forced to – to fit in a social group,” says Maisarah Miskoon, a student at SMCC. “I don’t think it’s healthy at all, physically and emotionally.”
Indeed, tanning – more specifically indoor tanning – is an unfortunate method to enhance one’s beauty. In fact, depending on who you ask, it does not enhance beauty at all because it rests not in an organic essence, but in a terribly unnatural and forced essence. By purposeful tanning, one is essentially risking a slow suicide and/or adverse health conditions to feel a superficial self-esteem, a false beauty, a habit that is produced by our country’s abject obsession with what constitutes the quintessentially beautiful person. It’s in our best interest not to regard and practice in society’s expectations of us, not to subscribe to the beauty which the media odiously perpetuates, and not to obsess over beauty, but to esteem our health in the utmost fashion and recognize the beauty we already harbor from within.
To protect yourself in the summer sun, it’s advised that we use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, allowing your skin to absorb it in case of perspiration; wear a hat and clothing to cover your skin; and wear sunglasses that block UV-A and UV-B rays. As for tanning indoors, well…
Don’t turn a tanning booth into your coffin.

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