Opinion: Will the tanning bed obsession ever come to an end?



Megan L. Brown

Megan Brown

Megan L. Brown is a sophomore news major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, according to skincancer.org.

Two million people are diagnosed with more than 3.5 million skin cancers annually, according to skincancer.org.

“Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old, and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old,” according to skincancer.org, so why are so many young people ignorant about the dangers of overexposure to UV radiation caused by tanning beds?

I sadly put my money, heart and soul into tanning beds for six years. I mutilated my skin by tanning until I finally came to my senses last month. It is safe to say I wasn’t as bad as I was when I was 15 years old and tanning three to four times per week. (That’s about $35 a week).

When I was in the ninth grade, I saw my friends going to the tanning salon and thought maybe I should darken my pale skin. I never tanned that easily with my fair skin and blonde hair — I unfortunately did not get the genes that gave my sister dark hair and olive skin. I became obsessed, and, trust me, it is an obsession.

As my high-school years went on, I had friends giving me interventions on my tanning. I just brushed them off, but you would think I would listen since I am the daughter of a cancer survivor. My mother was diagnosed with melanoma in 1995 and luckily survived the devastating cancer. She always warned me about the dangers of tanning because one person dies of melanoma every hour, according to skincancer.org. She did not ever want me to go through all of the pain she experienced. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined rate of cancer of the breast, prostate, lung and colon, according to skincancer.org. Was tanning my skin and increasing my chances of developing skin cancer really worth it? No.

Why is tanning so appealing? Personally, I feel better about myself when I am tan. I am more confident, and it’s a way to relax, but in reality, I was just slowly killing myself. I was not doing myself a favor by increasing my risk of developing cancer, subtracting years from my life or adding wrinkles to my face.

In our society, we see TV shows, and celebrities glamorize tanning, (“Jersey Shore,” “Real Housewives” series, etc.), and the younger generation just sees it as a hobby. It surely is not a hobby; it is deadly. Why are we still glamorizing this obsession? The laws need to become stricter and start banning indoor tanning salons, or at least raise the age limit to use an indoor tanning salon like we do with alcohol and tobacco. The younger generation cannot go on thinking tanning is safe or that it makes you beautiful. Tanning as one of my priorities is over.