Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Sun/Water Analogy

Earlier this week, the Today Show on NBC had a segment called “The Truth About Sunless Tanning.”  Within it, Joseph Levy, executive director of Smart Tan, a so-called education institute for the tanning industry, debated the benefits of sunless tanning…i.e., use of a tanning bed.  During the rather heated debate, he stated the following:

“To say that any UV exposure is damaging and therefore should be avoided would be like saying water causes drowning, therefore you should avoid water.  It is an essential element of life…water, air and sun.”

Mr. Levy, your demeanor during the debate tells me that there is no way that one could convince you that tanning beds are a bad choice.  They are bad…but I’ll accept your ignorance.  However, your analogy regarding sunlight and water is most certainly flawed.  In fact, I believe the water analogy supports the anti-tanning initiative much more.

It is true that both sun and water are essential to life.  Without either, all living things would perish.  I have told my own children that the sun is a good thing.  It feels good, it makes plants (and children) grow, and it should not be feared.  The same can be said for water…it’s essential and recreational.  But too much of either can be dangerous.  There are such things as scorching droughts as well as intense floods…both devastating natural disasters brought on by the essentials of life.  But let’s focus on the smaller scale.

The danger regarding water comes when a person enters who is a non-swimmer.  For obvious reasons, this person could drown.  This essential of life can be very dangerous indeed.  So how can a person still enjoy the water?  First of all, he needs to know his own limits.  Can he handle shallow water?  Would it be better to learn to swim?  And what happens if he takes a boat ride?  I think we’d all agree that he should wear a life jacket around deeper water.

Now let’s apply this analogy to the sun.  It only takes a few minutes of sun exposure to start the damage, especially for lighter skin tones.  It’s best to know one’s limits and wear appropriate protective clothing, hats and sunglasses.  But what of those longer days spent enjoying the sun…at the beach, pool, golf course, etc.?  That’s the analogy to deep water, therefore put on the lifejacket…the sunscreen!  Of course, it should be worn all the time, but especially worn (and reapplied every 2 hours!) during excessive sun exposure.

It’s foolish to think that anything is 100% safe.  Yes, there are benefits to the sun and I embrace them as much as anyone else.  There are also dangers…just as there is with water.  Speaking as a former lifeguard, I‘ve witnessed the joys and dangers of both sun and water.  Both need to be respected.

That’s the truth.


  1. Well said! that guy made me so mad, but Dr. Nancy Snyderman was AWESOME! I think she would have loved to let that guy have it!

  2. I couldn't agree more:-) We cannot hide from life, we have to embrace it and be respect it.

  3. VERY well-put! R-E-S-P-E-C-T ... perfect!

    : )