February 20, 2012

Is a tanned health promoter an oxymoron?

This is why they do it!
Seriously, I'm as white (some may say blue) after my trip to Mexico as I was before it and the disappointment or confusion on people's faces is noticeable. Why would I ever want to damage skin cells, increase my likelihood for skin cancer, and - above all - look like a alligator handbag at 45? Why would anyone?

And this is my question for the day.....why, with all we know about skin cancer and wrinkles do we continue to lay in the sun and bake ourselves? The most common sight in Mexico is the wrinkled, brown, women complete with swimsuit cover up and long lacquered (bright red) nails. Countless numbers of these women spread themselves over the beach by 9am and stay there until dinner time. I'm certain many of them haven't hit 50 yet but they look 65. Why do they do it?

At least we have come a
little way...right?
The belief that a tan is a sign of health and vitality is still alive and well. We see it in the thriving sunbed business (even when our cities are considering creating an age limit for the use of a sunbed) that people will still pay to use something that has been proven unhealthy (but promises the look of health). But isn't this the same with the battle of the bulge? Those that walk around (with pride I might add) fat free are really those that have a lower chance at a long life. According to the research (those studies that included millions of participants over a long period of time - usually conducted in Norway), those that are in the "overweight" BMI (body mass index) are going to enjoy - with everything else considered - a longer life than those in the "healthy" or lean BMI range. But we will risk cancer and heart disease while we reach for our diet pops and sugar / fat free snacks. Note: a study was just published that showed a correlation between one sugar free pop a day and heart attacks and stroke.

When the concept of beauty changes, we will change...but no sooner than that. And while I would love to believe this will happen...I tend to doubt we will change what we, as a society, consider beautiful.  While I do tend to subscribe (via my own socialization) to what is attractive physically...I stop at baking myself in the sun until I start looking like that lady from "Something About Mary" (I still can't shake the scene of her bubbling topless on the porch with her silver reflector board).


So as I slowly integrate myself into the normality of Real Life again, I will do so with my pale (almost grey really) face held high knowing that, even though I can't reverse the tanning in my teens and twenties (I recall spritzing myself with vegetable oil on the beaches in Hawaii and lying on a silver, reflective blanket) I have done what I can to prevent further damage.....for now anyway (I'm sure the oil and blanket thing will get me in the end....)


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