Friday, November 14, 2008


My 25 year class reunion is coming up. I got a new dress for it several weeks ago, but when I tried it on again recently there was something that I didn't like anymore. Actually, it wasn't the dress, it was my arms. The dress is sleeveless and I think that when I first bought it I still had my summer tan going on, and now that it's fading my arms look whiter, and...bigger.

Since there isn't even a sky anymore, just darkness that the rain comes out of, getting some sunshine in the usual way is not an option. But there is another way. I dug out the coupon book that came in the mail the other day, and found the ad for "Tropi-tan."

I was thinking about the new "spray-tans" that I have heard about, so I called the number to see what that was all about. The absolutely most perky voice on the planet came on the phone:

"Welcome to Tropi-Tan where the sun always shines! This is Sandy how can I help you?"

I explained that I was curious about their services, and that I have this event coming up. She squealed with delight and told me that they are currently offering one FREE week of Level One tanning and that would work out just perfectly for me. I asked a lot of questions to make sure that free really is free, and she assured me that it was. She was just so darn excited to be meeting someone new to tanning, and started to explain to me how they have all different lotions you can buy, and stickers! I was struggling to imagine what on earth the stickers might be for, and she went on to explain how it would make a shape, such as the playboy bunny head, onto your skin. I was starting to feel like I was being recruited...and I agreed to come in.

Since I have never done this before I decided to do some research first. Sure enough, they have a website. It was full of useful information including a Q&A page that answered many questions. When I got to this one, I was amazed:

Q. Why do we always hear that tanning is bad?

A. Tanning is an important issue to the dermatology industry because skin cancer represents the only subject that its lobbyists can promote as critical or life threatening. Unfortunately, in their zeal to scare consumers into their offices, lobbyists for the dermatology industry have twisted the facts and exaggerated many research findings. They continue to mislead the public about the dangers of tanning, whether indoors or outdoors.
There is also the issue of the “Almighty Dollar.” The fear of the sun generated by dermatologists feeds a multi-billion dollar industry lead by huge special interest groups who conduct and promote most of the research on skin cancer. Lobbyists for pharmaceutical firms that sell billions of dollars worth of sunscreens and SPF cosmetics have teamed with the dermatology industry to promote a misinformed campaign of sun abstinence.
Conversely, there is no major industry except the indoor tanning industry that makes money by promoting the positive effects of sunshine. The indoor tanning industry consists of small companies that can’t match the marketing power of the multi-billion dollar "sunscare coalition."
Over the last few years, thousands of indoor tanning professionals have supported an organization – the Indoor Tanning Association – which was founded “to protect the freedom of individuals to achieve a suntan, via natural or artificial light.” This organization is currently working to develop a national advertising campaign that will increase public awareness of “smart” tanning, the importance of avoiding sunburn, and the many positive effects of regular, controlled UV exposure.

What??? This seems awfully twisted around from what I know to be true about the dangers of the sun. Dermatology lobbyists misleading the public? Who are we supposed to believe anymore? This is reminiscent of other types of statements out there: "He's a Muslim" ..."Too big to fail"... "Detoxifying foot pads"...when someone wants you to believe something all they have to do is say it...and the people who want to believe eat it up like lunch.

The tanning "industry" for me falls into the category of things like Auto Racing and Toby Keith Music, where I am somewhat aware of their existence and yet amazed to find the enthusiastic crowds already involved when I finally check it out. The tanning salon was abuzz with activity. They have over a dozen tanning machines in there. I always figured that these places were used primarily by body builders, and maybe strippers, but clearly there is a large section of society willing to risk early wrinkling and cancer and purchase memberships.

I bought these odd little goggles and some lotion and went into the room where this giant scary glowing spaceship-like machine was waiting for me. The goggles hurt my eyes and the lotion smelled like puke but I was glad to see that there was a little sign on the surface of the tanning bed that it had been sanitized. I laid down on it and pressed the button and it started to glow, and fans whirred, and when I pulled the lid down it felt like I was closing my own coffin. After my 7 minutes of being a human pannini I still wasn't sure why anyone would choose to do this regularly, and was questioning my own sanity over the experience.

I'm still not sure if this was a safe thing to do. I know that I at low risk for burning due to my olive skin. I am usually very careful to put on sunscreen when I go outside, and the tan I do get is from riding my bike (fronts of thighs, tops of hands and forearms) and when I'm watching the boys in our backyard pool or at the beach.

I didn't consider that I would be in a different state of undress in the tanning bed than my usual summertime activities. So while my arms might have gotten a slight shade darker, I now have an itchy pink "bathing suit" that doesn't come off. Ow.

I'm thinking now about going with a fake tanning lotion, or maybe a long-sleeve sweater.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Mindy- 25th reunion??? Why would anyone there be sleeveless? When most of my past office staff were in their 30's and often wearing sleeveless blouses due to poor air conditioning, the self- appointed fashion police announced that anyone over 30 should not show off their old arms, as it labels them really fast for age- and at least they could cover up arms, unlike the tops of their over-30 hands.
Well, you look great and should be proud to walk through that reunion door. And please don't go to any tanning center again. You are tempting fate.
I noticed you didn't mention cleavage on that sleeveless dress..... Aunt Chris