If you have not checked out this page http://www.facebook.com/fightmelanoma, you should. The man who created the page is so awesome and dedicated to promoting awareness. Honestly, a lot of the articles I read online are found thanks to him. His most recent posting was regarding an article of Oprah's website. As he said in his comment regarding the article, "When Oprah's people talks, people listen." Let's hope so.
This article, written by Brad Lamm, describes why tanning addiction is more popular than we assume. Lamm goes back in time and discusses how Coco Chanel determined that being tan was popular. Until recently, being tan was considered beautiful. People envied others for their bronzed skin. As Lamm writes, "and over time we've come to think that pale is, well, pathetic in some ways." Isn't that true? I can't tell you how many times--even pre-melanoma--people have commented on my pale skin. One not-so-charming guy (and one not worthy of a second date) even said, "You are just so white! Don't you ever get sun? What about a tanning bed?" It is no surprise people feel pressure to be tan when society assumes that is how they should look...especially in the summer. Now when people comment on my lack of tan lines, I politely say, "I have melanoma. Being tan is the enemy." The conversation quickly ends.
Lamm continues his article by asking a question so many of us folks in Hotel Melanoma wonder: "So if cancer kills (which it does, no denying this), why do tanning salons continue to grow in popularity, and why are we hurting ourselves with the push of a button day after day?"
What is my answer to this question? Well, for one, I think people are still in the habit of believing that tan skin is beautiful skin. Sure, famous actresses and actors are showing their pale skin more often now, but the rest of society has yet to catch up. (Those Hollywood stars...always ahead on the trends!) Plus, research is just now becoming readily available to people. Ask 6 people if melanoma is a serious cancer and I guarantee that half of them will quickly tell you that melanoma is just skin cancer. Big deal, right? Hmph.
Lamm answers his own question of why people continue to tan despite the risks by saying "the answer is easy: We tan because it feels good, emotionally and physically. The sun on our skin, the tingle of the sun-kissed body. There's the slimming effect that we get too, as we look in the mirror when tan." Ask any melanoma warrior who used to frequent a tanning salon, I bet she will agree with Lamm. Being tan did make us feel prettier. Fascinating about being on a beach with the sun beating down on us was a way to escape from our busy (cold) lives. And yes, I admit, I always felt a bit slimmer while tan.
Then Lamm says something that I think all tanning bed lovers should read: "Natural light elevates our mood too, while cancer lowers it. Cancer's a bummer! To every ying, there's a yang. Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer, and while it represents only 4 percent of all skin cancers, it is the cause of 75 percent of all deaths. UV light causes skin cancer—there's no denying it."
Let me tell you....Being Tan VS. Being Cancer Free = There's no competition. If I could turn back time, I would be the whitest white girl out there! (And screw you, dude, who tried to make me feel like I am ugly because I am pale!)
Even if you have not been personally affected by skin cancer, read the research that is being published. Read the stories of the Tina's, the Glenna's, and the others whose lives have ended so abruptly due to melanoma.
The author of this article, Brad Lamm, stopped tanning in 1994 after his family history of skin cancer scared him into realizing the risks of tanning. He writes, "A family health crisis changed my behavior. I still love the beach and sitting outdoors, but now I put on sunscreen and sit in the shade. Truth be told, I miss the glow, and while sometimes bad things feel good, tanning no longer fit into my plan to love myself through my own behaviors and daily actions. The cost of cancer was way too high."
You are right, Mr. Lamm. The cost of cancer is way too high.