Why Are Black Women Tanning?
9 months ago
It's not about color, it's about tone
Cancer can be the unfortunate (and sometimes fatal) result of sun tanning, as study after study has consistently documented. In the latest study to delve into the phenomenon, indoor tanners were almost 70 percent more likely to develop melanoma, the most common type of skin cancer, before reaching their 40th birthday. Those in search of a bronzed body have not been so easily discouraged by the alarming statistics, instead, they have opted for sunless procedures like airbrushing and spray tanning.
The obsession over tanning among white youth has been well established on popular shows like "Jersey Shore." After all, the eternally copper-skinned cast did coin the acronym "GTL," created in honor of their favorite activities--"gym, tan, laundry"--a phrase they repeat like a sacred mantra. But African Americans in search of the same sun-kissed glow are often met with more challenges than clarity. Do a simple Google search and you'll find worrisome inquiries like, 'Could they? Should they?!'; a few helpful how-to guides; and definitive declarations that "Yes, they can!" And perhaps more interestingly, that more and more do--by choice--despite the already high level of melanin coloring their skin.
So, what gives?
Dr. Dina Strachan, a New York dermatologist who specializes in ethnic skin, said, "I would imagine that women of color would be interested in tanning for the same reason as everyone else. Having a tan is a social status symbol. In a society in which people who have to work mostly do so indoors, having a tan is a sign of leisure and wealth, i.e. 'I was in Rio on the beach while you were stuck in the office.'"
But African American women have also discovered that tanning services can help improve unique conditions specific to darker skin.
Mary Glymph, owner and operator of Atlanta-based Bronz Mobile Tan, which provides at home airbrushing, said, "I have seen a trend. When African American women tan, we really don't do it for the same reasons that Caucasians do, which is really trying to get darker. We're looking for even skin tone and glow."