What Tanning Does To Your Body, In GIFs

In college I was an Art History minor and hence analyzed countless antiquated paintings that rendered the epitome of ideal beauty: fleshy, curvy Madonna’s with elegantly pale skin. A refreshing perspective that juxtaposes what we covet today. Admittedly, I’m often jealous of people with organically olive skin, a constant glow that connotes the essence of summer. I am also ridiculously envious of the stunningly pale, even, luminous light tones, (i.e. our editor Samantha Escobar) much like the Realists hoped to portray–as I tend to fall toward the uneven, blotchy, red middle.

Fake tanning has become a phenomenon in our day and age (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase). And before I act all preachy, I must confess: I too have fallen victim to the tanning bed. My first endeavor was before my senior prom because I was living in Germany and it just does not get warm in April. More recently, I revisited the tanning salon prior to my sisters wedding because I was dressed in a color called “blush.” Ostensibly, this translates to a rosy pink, or a bright tomato red (in my case). The actual color, however, was a pink lighter than a newborns flesh and tanning was my attempt to avoid being swallowed by the practically translucent gown. I say “because” as if I’m providing justification for this guilty pleasure, though I’d be lying to proclaim that I didn’t enjoy every moment of my 8-minute soak in Vitamin D radiation.

But, here are (some) of the major consequences tanning presents, which is why this year we should all resolve to quit.

1. Everything about this: tanorexia
I empathize with the desire to be uber tan, really I do. I cringe when my bare legs are exposed in winter, plus typically, I feel more attractive when I’m tan, so yay for the boost of self confidence. But, seriously, we need to raise ‘tanorexia’ awareness for its victims: the people who never think they are tan enough.

I.e. You begin your tanning bed treatments looking like this:

Assuming, after a few sessions you’ll exit like this:

When in reality you look like this (because you’re addicted):

All unnatural and burnt orange, Oompa Loompa-esque, which is only suitable if you’re auditioning for The Jersey Shore or just orbited the sun.

2. It ages you. Literally.
Unprotected ultraviolet radiation exposure results in “leathery” skin because harmful UV rays break down elastin fibers and collagen, resulting in wrinkles and dark spots. Ironically, this elective that we choose to partake in as an attempt to enhance our beauty, ultimately detracts from it. SAVE. YOUR. YOUTH!

3. Cancer.
Tanning causes cancer, more specifically, skin cancer by damaging DNA in cells and weakening the immune system. This is ubiquitously understood information, much like lung cancer induced via cigarette smoke. Yet, apparently not significant enough to keep us away from this trend.

4. Your vision. (Perhaps this correlates with #1?)
Cataracts or “cloudy” vision could be the result of increased UV exposure. How good will that tan skin be when you can’t see it? Yeah, useless. (Harsh, I know but necessary!)

5. Sick, sick, sick.
Tanning can actually make you ill because (revert to #3) it can suppress your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to infection.

Also, does anyone else have the (kind of irrational) fear that somehow you’ll get shocked or electrocuted or trapped in the tanning bed concoction? Gets me every time, which is why I come prepared and always plot my method of escape.

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    • Can_Diche

      I saw “I still know what you did last summer” really young and that was enough to keep me out of a tanning bed for life.

      • Lindsey Conklin

        yeah that scene is horrifying!

    • APlack1960

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    • Katie

      Can’t do a tanning bed article without a Ross gif from Friends! That’s still probably my favorite scene in Friends ever.