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Please pass the sunscreen

The Mommy Chronicles

May 4, 2012
Anne Blankenship , The Daily Freeman Journal

Did you catch the story this week about the New Jersey mom who allegedly took her young daughter to a tanning salon? While I was concerned about the child, I was equally as concerned about the mom who has taken tanning to new heights.

The woman has a deep, deep bronze tan, giving her a very leathery look that makes her look much older than her reported age of 44. Some experts have said she's "tanorexic" - a condition in which one participates in excessive outdoor or indoor tanning.

Like most baby boomers, back in college, I went through a phase of wanting a nice, healthy glow in the summertime. What I usually got was a red, painful burn that resulted in peeling skin and no tan. I used to laugh at my mom who would take umbrellas to sporting events. Now, I can see why she did that.

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As a girl of Scandinavian descent, I really had no chance of being a bronzed goddess. My fair skin and light hair meant I was destined to be a pale and pasty for the rest of my life. I never really tanned; my freckles just merged.

I tried tanning beds a couple of times - bad choice on my part. I was burned when the attendant apparently failed to tell me that fair-skinned people shouldn't tan for 15 minutes on the first session. Ouch.

My "aha" moment with tanning came in my early 20s when I sustained a nasty, painful burn on my shins. Who knew sitting in a lawn chair at a garage sale all morning with bare legs perched on a box would cause that kind of pain? And the thing with a sunburn is you don't always feel it until hours later. After a sleepless night, I went to my doctor who read me the riot act, put me on some prednisone and made me promise not to do something so foolish again. He also handed me a tube of SPF 30 sunscreen and told me to use it everyday.

We've always been very careful with Daniel and the sun, too. He never goes to the pool without his bottle of sunscreen and he's been coached to reapply every time there is a break. The local pool also has these wonderful huge umbrellas that shade the areas surrounding the pool. The colorful umbrellas also provide a break from the heat on a hot summer day.

I don't know if the woman from New Jersey actually took her daughter into the tanning booth or if the girl's sunburn was from outdoor activities. Regardless, I hope that the mother will not lead her daughter down the tanning path.

Skin Cancer Foundation information shows that indoor tanners have a 74 percent increased risk of developing melanoma over those who don't tan, and one or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than double a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life. One person dies of melanoma every hour and one in 55 people will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.

Is a bronzed glow worth that? Hey, there's always spray tans or tan in a can. As for me, pass the sunscreen and wide brimmed hat. Let's start a new fashion statement. Let's show the world that pale and pasty is actually healthier than sun-bronzed and glowing.



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