Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tanning is Not a Game!

I don’t shock easily.  I may find some things in this world upsetting or confusing or whatever, but rarely does something shock me.

Today, the Facebook Page “Pull the Plug on Tanning Beds” shared a children’s computer game called “Sophia the First Tanning Salon.”  Sophia the First is a popular cartoon princess who appears on the Disney Channel.  If you have any preschool daughters, you have undoubtedly heard of this little princess.   Anyhow, apparently the game allows the user, intended to be a small girl, to learn remedial computer skills by selecting items with the mouse through a tanning process.  “Pull the Plug” was livid and encouraged followers to write to the game company, and to Disney, to complain about this game.

I wrote the following:  "You have GOT to be kidding! The FDA has issued a warning against all minors from using tanning beds as a result of the increased risk of skin cancer and melanoma. And now you're teaching kids that tanning beds are fun? When will you come out with Sophia the First Humidor to teach kids the fun with smoking? How about Sophia the First Binge Drinking? Please take this game down now!"  Others sent similar messages.

But in all honesty, this didn’t shock me.  It surprised me because, while I knew the peer pressure to tan was evident in high schools, middle schools, and perhaps even elementary schools, I never suspected there to be such influence towards preschool girls.  Disappointed?  Yes, but not shocked.
It then occurred to me that Sophia the First might not be the only children’s character to fall to the seductions of tanning.  So I Googled “tanning games.”  I was quite surprised by the number of websites with similar games as Sophia…aimed at preschoolers and girls of all ages.  Again I was surprised and I browsed the many games.  And then…I was shocked:

All images from
Yes, what you see above is the beginning of a girls game called, “Cinderella Pregnant Tanning Solarium.”  I kid you not…this is real!

Per the introduction, “the sun is not strong enough for a tan and Cinderella cannot go to the beach, especially since she is pregnant.  (We’ll assume that she married Prince Charming before she got knocked up.)   She decided to go to the salon and get that perfect summer tan that will perfectly match her beautiful hair. First of all she must prepare for the solarium by choosing a nice bathing suit shave her legs and apply sun lotion for protection.”  (Um…if you’re using a tanning bed you ain’t gonna use sunscreen!)

So, I decided to play the game.  A guiding hand showed the young girl (me in this case) where to move the cursor and click the mouse.  First, one must select a swim suit.  I chose this frilly pink and blue striped bikini:

Next I used bolt cutters to remove any jewelry from Cindy’s body.  This included her necklace, bracelets and ankle bracelet.  Apparently this is to advise that it’s important not to wear metal in the tanning bed.  (I didn’t notice a wedding band either…hmmm)  And yes, I said bolt cutters:

Next I put a comb in her hair to make sure her neck would be nice and exposed to the rays, and then I shaved her legs:

I have no words.

Afterwards I applied “protective lotion.”  If you look carefully you can see the letters UV on the bottle.  They probably printed it so small so as not to lessen the tanning fun with pesky UV statistics.

Finally I gave Cindy her eye protection and it was off to the tanning bed!

Notice that there is a choice of a light, medium or dark tan.  The latter suggests a tanning time of 60 minutes.  Even though tanning salons are sleazy, I’m sure even they agree that poor Cinderella will turn into pumpkin bread after 60 minutes laying in the bed!  But what the heck, I chose dark.  After applying some “After Tan” spray plus a Pumpkin Carriage belly tattoo,  Cinderella was a new tanned (pregnant) princess!

Speaking of princesses, the player can opt for others to partake in this tanning pampering session, including Elsa, Ariel and the aforementioned Sophia.  Neither of the other princesses appears pregnant, but Barbie does indeed show up after having spent a careless night a few months ago with Ken and/or the Toy Story crew.

The point of this message is not to shock you with the story line of the game, but to be shocked that tanning influence exists when our kids are barely out of diapers!  We all know of the “dangers” of what may be online …but this is a different and unexpected kind of danger.  Please speak with your children and teach by example.  Wear your sunscreen, check your skin, and for goodness sake, stay out of the tanning beds!  Tanning is a game you will lose!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Are Tanning Beds Still A Thing? Sadly, yes

John Oliver is a British comedian who had appeared many times on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart and who now has his own show on HBO called “Last Week Tonight” which airs on Sundays.  He has a segment called, “How is this STILL a thing?” featuring funny bits on stupid or seemingly impractical practices that continue today.  Examples have included “Pennies,” “Daylight Savings Time,” and “Dressing up as other races.”  Last night he posed the question to tanning beds.  Have a look at the video…

I shared this on my Facebook page and it’s already been seen by many.  It’s refreshing to see a comedic take on the stupidity of using tanning beds.  But at the same time, the question remains, “how are tanning beds still a thing?”  The answer may lie within the video above.

There are organizations listed in the video that support the tanning industry including the Indoor Tanning Association and the American Suntanning Association.  These groups might support a stupid, vain and proven dangerous practice, but they are smart and savvy.

A few years ago, the ASA actually supported the North Carolina bill to ban tanning beds for those under 18 years of age.  Yes, they SUPPORTED the ban.  At the time, I was skeptical of their claim, wondering if they might not be realigning their tanning strategy from targeting high school kids to soliciting the college-age crowd.

I was right.  In the past couple of years, tanning salons have cropped up all over college campuses and some tanning beds are appearing in private and university-owned dormitories as part of an amenity package.  Luckily, there are folks trying to discourage colleges and universities from endorsing tanning businesses.  However, despite increased broadcasts of sunscreen importance and UV ray dangers, more and more “educated” college kids are seeking that golden tan.

But it’s not just the college crowd.  Blatant ignorance still exists in blue collar America.  Despite the warnings…despite the deaths…despite ample information, adults are still choosing to visit tanning salons.

A 34 year-old co-worker who recently started where I work announced last week that she was looking forward to hitting the tanning bed.  Having made the statement in front of me and  having not known my stance, other colleagues backed away as if Clint Eastwood was about to have a shootout.  As expected, I pretty much laid into the otherwise nice and sharp lady about her absolute stupidity at visiting a tanning salon.  Her arguments included, “I’ve been going for years and I don’t have cancer,” “But I never burn,” “My skin is too ugly unless it has some color,” and the classic “I need a base tan for when I’m outside this summer.”  Yes, I rebutted each point (“Each time you go you increase your chances and it’s a cumulative effect,” “Tanning is a sign of skin damage, not just burning,” “Your skin color is beautiful but you will get more wrinkles and sun damage if you continue tanning,” and “Bullshit!”)  Still, she hasn’t changed her mind and despite being older than an over confident college kid, she still approaches tanning with an exuberant ignorance.  It’s really frustrating. 

And yes, tanning beds are still a thing.  Just not a good thing.