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Tanning Offers Advantages, Disadvantages

Local Tan N’ Time employee  sanitizes one of the tanning beds. Photo by Sarah Diaz.
Local Tan N’ Time employee sanitizes one of the tanning beds. Photo by Sarah Diaz.

Senior Alyssa Jordan rubs in her tanning lotion, puts on her protective eyewear, and lies down in the tanning bed. After a couple of minutes, she gets out of the bed and puts on her moisturizer and admires her slightly darker skin.

As the weather begins to warm up and summer nears, more people begin to start tanning. Although there are some known risks in tanning, that has not stopped Jordan. In fact, Jordan tans three to five times a week.

“[I tan] because I do not like to be pale and pasty, and it is relaxing,” Jordan said.

Jordan is not the only person to tan because it makes them feel more attractive. Juniors Kayla Cobb and Tiffany Tawes also tan because they prefer the way it makes them look.

Both students not only tan, but also  work at tanning salons. Jordan works at Sun Tan City, and Tawes at Tan N’ Time. Their jobs consequently influence them to tan.

“I work at a tanning salon, so it is preferred to be tan so that clients can see the results [of tanning] over time,” Tawes said.

Such easy access to tanning actually can  increase the likelihood of tanning.

“[I do think my job encourages me to tan more] because everyone I work with tans every day, and they pressure you to tan more. Also, I tan for free, so it’s more convenient,” Jordan said.

There are many different methods of tanning, giving adolescents many options when deciding to tan.

“At Tanning ‘n Time we have five levels of tanning, so I tan in all of the beds, and I use different lotions when I go into the beds. I [also] use hydrators when I get out of the bed. I [then] use lotion when I tan out in the sun,” Tawes said.

Many negative side effects are associated with tanning. However, most people are aware of the consequences that could happen if they tan.

“[I do not worry about the side effects of tanning] because I only tan two to three months out of the year,” Cobb said.

According to a study conducted by JAMA Dermatology, people who tan indoors four times a year have increased their risk of developing melanoma, a less common but dangerous form of skin cancer, by 11%.

There are some benefits that come with tanning, such as improved mood and energy, increased production of Vitamin D, and protection against sunburns. The Indoor Tanning Association claims that tanning provides a base tan that offers a sun protection force of three to four, which blocks 65% of erythema produced by ultraviolet rays.

However, in spite of the potential benefits, the potential risks greatly outweigh the benefits, and it begs the question of why people tan.

“[Society plays a role in why people tan] because celebrities are tan and people want to be like celebrities. If one person tans, everyone else wants to be tan,” Cobb said.

Like with many other trends, people also decide to tan out of peer pressure.

“There are more people that are tan, so others tan to fit in [with everyone else], and not look like person out being lighter than everyone else,” Jordan said.

Due to the harmful side effects of tanning, and the increase of tanning among adolescents, many states have begun to pass laws concerning tanning. In Virginia, there is only one law for tanning, which is if an adolescent is under 15 and not emancipated, they need written parental consent to allow them the chance to tan. There have also been bills proposed, such as a ban on tanning for minors under the age of eighteen without parental consent.

“I greatly oppose [a law prohibiting tanning by minors under eighteen without parental consent] because you already have to have a consent form signed by a legal guardian, so if it is okay with your parents you should be allowed to. Plus it would lead to people just buying tanning beds to have in their house for younger people which would promote excessive tanning, which is even worse for your health,” Jordan said.

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