A solar obsession

Laura Christopher

Some people just want it. They need it.  No matter how costly the lengths are to reach it.  So what is it?  Well, it’s a tan. Almost everyone has gotten one, either intentionally by strategically lathering up and lying on a beach or by a pool, or unintentionally by simply spending time outside.  

This is nothing shocking.  Hey, it can even be argued that it is natural.  

But, of course, the sun isn’t always out and the weather isn’t always warm and people don’t always have the time to lie on a beach.  

Enter the $2 billion business of the tanning bed. A person lies in an enclosed tube filled with UV radiation for, on average, 15 minutes, in order to darken one’s skin to the desired hue, incidentally increasing chances of skin cancer by 150 percent.

Sounds like a good time, right? Well, 28 million American people a year think so.  

However, some people take it to another level.  For some people, tanning becomes an obsession.  

“Tanorexia” is the condition of being addicted to tanning, to the point where the inflicted person can no longer see his or her skin tone realistically.  These “tanorexics” incessantly go to tanning salons, paying on average $8 a session to reach tan perfection.  

But why? What is the logic behind this craze? “It just makes you look better. Thinner. Prettier. Better. When a person is tan, they just look good.  Period,”  said a bronzed, blond-haired sophomore on the steps of Bartley Hall.  

“It is completely worth the consequences and the price.  I mean think about it, people spend millions of dollars on cosmetics and diet pills and gyms.  Why not tanning?  It all helps to improve yourself and it is perfectly normal,” stated the extreme-tanning advocate, who, by the way, wished to remain anonymous.

Cathy Lovecchio, director of the Villanova Health and Wellness Center, takes a different stance on tanning.

“Melanoma, a form of skin cancer, is the most common cancer in women aged 25-29, which is a result of sun exposure during the previous years,” she said.  “Beautiful bronzed skin is temporary, while skin cancer can change your life forever.”  

More information on safe sunning can be found at the Health and Wellness Center . While everyone loves a nice tan, the majority of people know there are limits to reaching it.  The consequences of years of tanning can be anything from a few wrinkles to cancer.  

“Tanorexia” is a very real presence in today’s society.  In the end, it becomes a matter of choice and taste.  But the next time you look in the mirror and think you look a little too pale, be sure you consider what you’re willing to risk before you get in that tanning bed.

Information for this article was found on www.skincancer.org.