A man with sunburned skin puts his hand in front of his face.

I Believed the Lies and Got Burned

I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 1988. I remember vividly that day in Pasadena, California when my dermatologist described my situation and talked about my need for multiple surgeries. I looked back, too. I recalled my endless hours in tanning booths and on beaches. It had become so clear to me. I had been lied to and because of those lies, I was completely ignorant as to what I had been doing to my skin. I believed the lies.

I thought getting a "base tan" would be good for me

I believed the lie that I needed a “base tan” before I went on vacation so that I would not burn on the beach or by the pool when I was away. For my fair skin, this usually meant that I would burn BEFORE my trip and hoped it would look tan after in preparation for the serious tanning (burning) opportunities, which lay ahead of me. I would show up at Catalina Island already beet red with sunburn and in pain. The truth-teller would have been that all tanning is actually evidence of damage, the “baseless” tan.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

I thought being tan would make me more appealing

I believed the lie that being tan would make me more appealing to myself and others. I thought that my outward appearance was more important than my inward character. The lie told me that my natural skin tone was not good enough, that I was NOT good enough. The liar told me that my value and self-worth were tied up in my appearance. The truth-teller would have told me to work on my insides more than my outsides, that I was “fearfully and wonderfully made”.

I didn't think it was dangerous

I believed the lie that skin cancer just skin cancer, and was not dangerous like other cancers. I was duped into thinking that it was only “skin deep”. The lie went something like this: “Only older men who had been golfers, fishermen or farmers got skin cancer on their heads and it was more of a nuisance than anything else.” The truth-teller would have told me that skin cancer can kill and maim. It was so much easier to convince myself that tanning was healthy rather than the opposite.

I thought tanning salons were convenient

I believed the lie that tanning salons were safe. I found them convenient and on those few Southern California days without full sunshine, I could get all the rays I wanted. I wanted to believe that my gym would never put me at risk when it offered discounted tanning sessions in the back of the aerobics studio. The truth-teller would have told me that dangerous ultraviolet rays were emitted by those sunlamps and that those rays could be a killer.

I thought suntan oil protected me

I believed the lie that suntan oil would protect me from any sun damage. I put my full trust in that coconut concoction as I burned mercilessly at every beach in Los Angeles. Those billboards touting these products had me convinced that I was safe under their care. The truth-teller would have told me that SPF 2 would keep me safe for only 20 minutes or so before I would start basting and baking and that Madison Avenue ad campaigns may not be medically sound.

I could go on and on about all the lies I believed, but I believe them no more and that’s the truth.

What lies have you believed?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SkinCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.