As somebody who has a very tan family but possesses extremely pale skin, I understand the urge to get that golden bronze look. It’s seen as a “healthy glow” and is seen as evidence that you were, indeed, in the sun at some point and that you’re not just some sad, lonely nobody who sits in her room — painted deep navy #08, like her soul — despising the outside world. Of course, those are not mutually exclusive, but when I was middle school, I certainly got made fun of for “hating the light” because I was so pale, and unfortunately (though unsurprisingly), kids are still feeling the pressure to darken their skintones.
Despite all the regulations for tanning beds that states have put into place, a poll conducted by British retailer Superdrug of 1,000 children between six and sixteen found that a full 62% want to be tanner. A third sunbathe — hopefully while wearing at least a bit of sunscreen, though if my past experiences were representative of present customs, SPF is generally not on kids’ minds. In fact, 21% say they ”would think nothing of putting body oils and lotions on arms and legs.”
Obviously, young kids probably do not know exactly what the dangers of sunbathing are, nor what body oils and lotions meant to deepen tans can do, but this emphasizes the importance of parents talking to kids about the risks involved, as well as the benefits of not getting burned. It’s also unfortunate that children feel the need to change their appearance at such a young age, but given our beauty standards, that burden is, again, unsurprising. To be fair, there are tons of celebrities these days who embrace their natural skin tone, whether it’s pale or deep or golden, so at least things are diversified more than in, say, the 90s when tan was basically it on the red carpet for several years.
Side note: Please, universe, please — can Gwyneth Paltrow not hear about this and come up with an organic sunless tanning line marketed to children? And can Tan Mom not hear about this and do the same (except not organic and possibly made of Popov with bronzer in it)? Thanks!