A woman celebrates her natural pale skin tone, throwing away a bottle of fake tan as tanning lotion melts away from her body.

Why Tanning Culture Needs to Change

Healthy glow vs. you look sick. Sun-kissed skin vs. are you a vampire?

The list goes on when it comes to the ways people describe someone with a tan vs. someone with pale skin, but it’s time for that to change!

When did the tanning culture start?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology historical reviews suggest that tanning first became fashionable in the 1920s.1 Since then we have been baking our skin outside and in tanning beds for years, all in the name of beauty, but at what cost?

What is a tan?

“There is no such thing as a safe tan. The increase in skin pigment called melanin, which causes the tan color change in your skin, is a sign of damage.”2 That’s right, that ‘healthy tan’ is actually your skin cells in trauma, which is the opposite of ‘healthy.'

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of flicking through Instagram and seeing celebrities and influencers laying in the sun lathered up with tanning oil. When will we start treating tanning like we do smoking? Sure it was once cool to see celebs smoking, but now we know how damaging smoking is, the conversation and perception around smoking have changed. This is what needs to happen with tanning, because let's get real, tanning kills!

Preventable skin cancer

According to the Cancer Council, 95% of melanomas are caused by overexposure to UV radiation and over 86% of cases are preventable.3 Let that sink in...PREVENTABLE! We need to STOP celebrating people for their healthy glow. We need to stop laughing about getting a sunburn, and more importantly, we need to educate people on what a tan could cost them...their life. Tanning is not cool, healthy, or beautiful and neither is killing yourself in the name of vanity.

So what is the solution to tanning culture?

Sure, fake tan is a much better alternative, however, it’s just a band-aid. Fake tan still highlights that a more tanned complexion is deemed as more attractive. I have grown up with my Mum saying to me over and over "that outfit is nice, it would be nicer with a tan, put a fake tan on." Although I know that comes from a good place, the more I educate myself, the more harmful I realized those comments are. They reinforce a western-society beauty standard, which is antiquated and dangerous.

The conversation needs to change, we need to celebrate our natural skin tone (whatever that may be) and we need to remember, when we know better, we do better.

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