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.


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