Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thank You Mela-Momma!

Note:  I wrote this piece just prior to learning about Chelsea Price’s interview on Headline News today.  Make no mistake, she’s a true “celebrity of melanoma!”

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would think that someone within the Skin Cancer Foundation created the ultimate public relations coup.  Out of the blue, an unwitting New Jersey tanning addict put skin cancer awareness and anti-tanning campaigns right on page one!  And all of this happened on the first day of Skin Cancer Awareness Month…assuring at least a few days of headline-grabbing stories and discussions.

Patricia Krentcil…otherwise known as the Tan Mom (I prefer Mela-Momma) allegedly took her 6 year old daughter to a tanning salon.  It was reported that the young girl (who is light-skinned with red hair!) was sun burnt and the implication was that the child actually used a tanning bed with her mother.  Both parents deny the allegations, stating that their daughter got too much sun while simply playing outside.  I suppose it’s for the authorities to sort out.

If indeed Mela-Momma is found guilty, not only does she have to answer to her actions, the tanning salon has to explain why they violated New Jersey law which prohibits children under 14 from using tanning devices.  If it’s found that the child never entered a booth or bed, but was in the same room as her mother as she tanned, the establishment still has to answer for their actions.  And if it’s found that the child sat in the lobby as Mela-Momma sat in the rotisserie, the salon is off the hook…sort of.  When a bar serves a patron too many drinks, they’re significantly and legally to blame for allowing the drinker to drive away.  Is a tanning salon guilty of the same if they let an obvious over-tanner continue to bathe in UV radiation?  This offers further confirmation of the Senate findings of the tanning industry’s sleazy actions.

But let’s get back to the anti-hero of our cause.   There have been countless articles and opinion pieces about Mela-Momma.  One good article from MSNBC offers insight to the real damage to skin.  And last night, Dr. Drew devoted half of his talk show to Ms. Krentcil and offered impromptu diagnosis of her addictive behavior and apparent body dysmorphic disorder.  He had another tanner…an attractive girl named Michelle (I think), that seemed to showcase the “real” tanner.  But at the same time, she exhibited her own seemingly addictive comments and really didn’t shed an approving light on tanning at all.  (And of course the more attractive Ms. Chelsea Price also appeared via Skype and made a great positive pitch for sun safety!)

I even had a conversation with my extreme-tanner co-worker today…asking her not to tan as much as Mela-Momma.  She promised that she wouldn’t (the jury is still out on that).

Tanning has taken a big hit.  Mela-Momma’s shoe-polished flesh will be long connected to the act of tanning, and it’ll turn people away.  At the same time, this occurs just as Skin Cancer/Melanoma Awareness Month kicks into gear.

An extreme tanner exposed in May, thus ensuring extended coverage of tanning dangers and skin cancer.  I couldn’t have planned it any better myself!

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