I’ve been on the paler side for as long as I can remember. Truth be told, it has never really bothered me or made a difference in the way I see myself. When high school rolled around, though, I slowly noticed how girls and even guys would make regular trips to the tanning salon for “some color.” I questioned this over and over, “If a lot of people are doing it, does it make it OK?” As a teen wanting to fit in, I began contemplating whether or not to make the trip to the tanning salon.
Long story short, Iâ��ve never encountered a tanning bed in my life and never have the desire to. If Iâ��ve learned anything about peer pressure itâ��s that it may not be obvious at first, but when you successfully walk away from the herd, youâ��ll thank yourself later for not giving in. Fast forward to my senior year of high school, when I became rapidly aware of the growing popularity of the so-called â��healthyâ�� bronzed look. Thanks to shows like Jersey Shore with its signature tanned cast and the multimillion dollar tanning industry generating appealing and persuasive ads, every which way we turn there seems to be pressure to tan.
The reality is that no tan is a safe tan and the word â��healthyâ�� has nothing to do with how tanned you become. In fact, a tan is a sign of damaged skin. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the effects of tanning are irreversible and once your skin color changes, itâ��s actually damaged which can lead to premature aging and even skin cancer.
The media plays a large role in delivering the false idea that having an artificial tan is what young women should want. As if we don’t have enough to worry about, now we have to make ourselves look like bronzed goddesses? The consistent pressure to have tanned skin reinforces the wrong idea of beauty. The good news is that young women are beginning to challenge this false idea of beauty by setting a positive example for future generations so everyone can feel comfortable with their own skin tone.
As a volunteer for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Tanning is Out initiative, I have seen the impact that youth can have in changing the perceptions of tanning by encouraging others to embrace and own natural skin tones. In 2012, over 6,000 high school students took the pledge to be tan free for prom in British Columbia as part of the Tan Free Grad Challenge. Youth also successfully advocated for provincial legislation that would prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning equipment.
Real beauty comes from within, and as cheesy as that may sound, it’s completely true. Your beauty is based on how confident you are to show the world the real you. So if you’re still subconsciously worried about your skin tone, you need to realize that a temporary tan will only provide a temporary fix and doesn’t truly make up for any insecurities you may feel inside. True beauty occurs when you find the inner strength to let go of those insecurities, start accepting yourself for who you are, and embrace the skin you’re in.
Images courtesy of Scrapetv.com, Thedartmouth.com
You can check out more of Jennifer’s posts on owning your own skin tone by clicking here.