The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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True Life: I’m addicted to tanning, and I can’t stop

Fashion with Fischer
 True Life
True Life

True Life

There is a myth, really a phenomenon about our culture that certain characteristics make someone attractive. We’re not talking about deep things here, but as artificial and stuck-up as we can get. A workout regime with a well-toned body is one. Being well dressed and groomed is another. Being tan is yet another.

But what is it about being tan that makes you attractive? In centuries past, being tan or having dark skin meant you worked outside and were therefore poor, while stark white was considered beautiful and wealthy. (Then again, being “plump” was also attractive, so I guess it’s safe to say we’ve come a long way).

There’s something about showing up to class with that “oh, I just came back from Jamaica” look. Of course, there is certainly such a thing as being too tan. Because looking like you’re Puerto Rican in the middle of winter (when you haven’t seen sun in four months and have an Irish background) just isn’t natural.

With over 10 tanning salons surrounding SMU’s campus, girls and guys have more than enough options to sneak off to in between classes to get a little “sun.”

TanMe, Inc., located across the street from SMU on Asbury, has quickly become one of the most popular tanning salons. Owner Daniel O’Loughlin is no stranger to the tanning business either, proving his salons successful in many locations. “We have a good steady clientele,” O’Loughlin said. “Customers appreciate good quality service and beds.” Proving why the company has boomed since it’s opening last September.

Lauren Sparks, a sophomore advertising major, has a monthly membership with TanMe. Although she used to only tan prior to dances and spring break in high school, she now visits TanMe three to four times a week. “I look better and feel better,” she said. “I know it’s bad, but I’ll worry about wrinkles when I’m 40.”

Ginger Goodwin tans about twice a week. “I fake-and-bake. There’s no shame,” she said, who also uses specialty lotions to get a “deeper and darker” tan. She has always been conscious of getting wrinkles, however, and covers her face while tanning.

Dan Marshall, a first-year, also has a monthly membership and visits TanMe about once a week. Marshall, who has brought a “significant number” of his fraternity’s pledge class to TanMe, says he likes using the 20-odd minutes to relax and look healthy, despite living an unhealthy lifestyle.

“I like [tanning] because I can booze all week and still look healthy,” he said. Well, that’s lovely. So even if you’re killing your liver at Home Bar, feel free to go tanning all week so at least you look good doing it.

The good new is, despite myths that tanning is horrible for your skin, creating wrinkles decades before they would otherwise appear and increasing your chances of skin cancer, O’Loughlin said most of the tanning companies have made tanning safer. “It’s safer to tan in a bed than outside because you can control the time (your skin is being exposed to UV rays),” he said. Many of the European beds [which is just about every one] are UVA rays only, meaning it is just about impossible to burn. In fact, a dermatologist said that it is not dangerous to have a tan; it is only dangerous when burning.

So what is it about tanning that becomes addictive? A member of TanMe myself, I tan about three times a week. (Sorry dad, I know you hate it but that’s just too darn bad.) I can’t stop; when I have nothing to do, I’ll just go tanning. I hate being pale. In fact, it slightly grosses me out when people are so pale that the sun seems to be bouncing off their skin.

Although tanned skin is more psychologically attractive to many people, a little sun is actually quite healthy for you. “Sunlight” is actually used to clinically help those with immune deficiencies, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD). It makes people feel better, if not look a bit healthier. (Who doesn’t love a little glow to their skin?) So tanning is not just a vain idea of looking better, it actually is addictive because tanning (or “sunlight”) produces vitamin D and more oxygen into the blood stream.

Now this does not mean you should go tanning every 24 hours because you think it’ll make you happier, because your skin will still look like an old piece of leather in 20 years. No one wants to look like Magda from “Something About Mary,” the old woman who sat outside her apartment all day with a foil shield reflecting sunlight onto her wrinkled body.

Cassie King, a junior Spanish and print journalism double major, said she knew her tanning had become addictive when her mother mentioned her extreme darkness. “My mom said I looked like a mulatto — this was during Christmas break, when I clearly had not been any where but tanning beds.”

If you’re not into the whole tanning thing because of the fear of tanning beds, perhaps Mystic tanning is the answer to an addiction. Mystic Tan, which uses DHA (which stands for a really long and impossible-to-pronounce word that wont make any difference if I include it or not), is a color additive that gives you sunless tanning in one session. Although Goodwin and I are personal non-fans of Mystic (“It scares me,” Goodwin said. “You can’t take a shower for like four hours after.”), it does bring many nervous and claustrophobic customers into tanning salons.

Megan Cline, a junior math major, never tans: “I think it’s extremely dangerous and I don’t think it’s natural to get really tan in seven minutes.” Although this is true, it sure is a time saver!

With spring break around the corner, no one wants to lie out on the beach all day in Puerto Vallarta and burn the crap-o-la out of his or her body. Suffering through a whole week where even showering is painful does not sound relaxing or fun to me.

So whether you’re claustrophobic of tanning beds or frightened of looking like a lobster on Thursday night, there’s a tanning solution for everyone. Just be cautious of frequenting the beds, not for health reasons, but for the social acceptance and fear of being known for your dark fake skin.

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