Is it wrong for me to assume that anyone who is still using a tanning bed on a regular basis, after all the evidence linking tanning to skin cancer, is clearly plagued by issues related to poor self esteem, feelings of worthlessness, and a lack of self concept? Or perhaps mentally ill?
Is there any other reason why a reasonably intelligent person would risk skin cancer in order artificially darken his or her skin tone?
Mind you, these are not people who fail to reapply sun screen after two hours in the sun or forget to wear a sun hat to the beach. These aren't people going a couple times before their wedding because they think they will look better in the photos. These aren’t even people who forget the apply sunscreen altogether. This is not a case of carelessness or laziness.
These are people who pay money to regularly fry their skin under concentrated UV lamps because they believe that others will think better of them, or they will think better of themselves, if their skin is darker than their natural skin tone.
In discussing this with my wife, she compared the dangers of tanning to that of smoking, and while I agree that both carry great risk, I think there is an important difference between the two:
Though smoking is exceptionally dangerous for your health, cigarettes are also highly addictive. Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on the planet. Yes, smoking is a stupid and disgusting thing to do, but quitting the habit can be exceedingly difficult.
Quitting tanning is as simple as deciding that your natural skin color is acceptable and that you need not to be browner than most in order to feel good about yourself.
This is not a case of addiction. It’s simply a case of placing one’s vanity ahead of one’s health.
It’s sad and stupid. Right?