Friday, August 12, 2011

Is Tanning Addictive?

There have been numerous articles released lately discussing studies that find tanning to be addictive. The NY Times published an article that says "The brains of frequent tanners may be similar to those of addicts" (Read Article Here)

I am not nearly qualified enough to make a true opinion. I have not read the study myself, I have only read an article here and there about it. My opinion is exactly that--my opinion. I do not believe I was addicted to the tanning bed, but I truly desired to look attractive. In my head, pre-melanoma (obviously) I thought to be pretty, one must be tan. I spent my days out sun bathing. In the winter, I hit up the local tanning salon before big functions or vacations. I thought that if my skin was brown, I would be pretty. I saw it not as an addiction, but as a responsibility. It was simple maintenance. That maintenance allowed me to feel pretty. 

With my friend Ashley in St. John, USVI
I tanned--I think we both did--before this trip.
You know, because I "did not want to burn."

Thinking back on my tanning days makes me a bit sad. I feel so silly for subjecting myself to something that could cause unnecessary damage. I also remember how much I actually hated the process of tanning. I hated to go to the salon because it seemed like the girls who worked there were always snobby and rude. I hated the way my skin would smell following a session. It was not the smell of the tanning lotion that bothered me, it was the slight scent of burning skin. (Yes...I don't know why that did not stop me either.) I hated that I had to time my tanning bed sessions to the time of day when I could run back to my apartment and shower afterwards. It all seemed like so much work. It was not a relaxing thing for me but a "necessary" thing IF I wanted to be tan in the middle of winter.

Some could argue that this is an addiction itself. I mean, think about all the girls and their eating disorders...Why do they have those disorders? They want to feel attractive. Every single person in the world could tell them they are beautiful and thin enough, but until they feel that way, they will continue doing the very thing that can kill them. Maybe tanning is like that for people. Their desire to be "beautiful" outweighs their desire to be healthy.

We all have our vices, I know. I can only criticize the girls who say "if I have to die of cancer, let it be skin cancer" so much. I used to be that girl.  I just hope they learn before it is too late.

1 comment:

Jillian Vanover said...

Tanning, sadly, is a true chemical addiction. What's pretty amazing (scientifically speaking) is that the tanning response induces a class of endorphin molecules which actually gives us that "feel good" feeling while in the sun. People can easily become addicted to tanning due to that feeling much like any other substance abuse.

I guess that coupled with most people's thought that "it won't happen to me" is why it's important to share the dangers of sun exposure and how nasty melanoma can be.

Thank you so much for sharing your story!