“I think tan people look better,” said Penn Manor Junior, Chassidy Sowersby.
And that’s why she tans.
Nowadays many teens, including ones here at Penn Manor, believe having a tan is the only way to be gorgeous.
But keeping up with sun-kissed color can be a risk.
According to the FDA and other cancer experts, recent studies have shown that the risk for both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers rise for young people when they use a tanning bed.
According to studies from U.S. and international dermatologists, the younger you are the more at risk you are of melanoma from tanning. If you are exposed to tanning beds by the age of 35, then your risk of melanoma increases by 75%.
Drop-dead gorgeous now has a whole new meaning.
But many teens say the benefits of tanning outweigh the risks.
For special occasions like homecoming and prom, Sowersby tans two times a week and over Christmas break for about a month.
“I don’t like being pale,” she says.
Many states have either proposed legislation on teen tanning or are in the process of it currently, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Pennsylvania legislators have proposed legislation that would require a parent/legal guardian presence and consent for anyone under the age of 18 to use an indoor tanning facility. This policy would provide penalties to any tanning facilities that permit minors to use tanning devices for anyone without parent/legal guardian consent and presence.
Many local salons have already enforced those safeguards.
Casey Bernhard, an employee at 5 Star Tanning said, “We don’t play no games,” with regards of warning people under the age of 24 about tanning risks.
Information about proper eye coverage is posted at 5 Star, encouraging clients to be aware of the dangers of tanning. Also, parent consent forms are required for those under the age of 18.
Christine, the assistant manager at Tanfastic in Willow Street, stated that clients between the ages of 13-15 need to have a parent accompany them while they are at the tanning salon. Also, clients between the ages 15-16 need a note from a parent or guardian. Clients who are 17 and older do not need any kind of consent form.
Some people believe that tanning in a bed is safer than tanning in the sun, but this is not the circumstance. Tanning beds exceed the amount of “safe” UV rays, therefore being more dangerous.
Since the age of 15 Sowersby has been tanning, and she claimed it can be called an “addiction.”
Sowersby said she spends about 8-20 minutes in the regular tanning bed, but when using a high-power bed she only spends 12 minutes.
A “high power” bed gives you a faster tan giving off more UV rays in less time.
Different skin types offer different dangers. Though tanning may be dangerous to everyone, fair-skinned people are at the greatest risk when it comes to tanning, according to the Department of Health.
People with a darker complexion are less vulnerable to burn and do not get as many UV rays absorbed into their skin, also according to the Department of Health.
Many high school students, the majority being female, tan for things including prom and homecoming. At these times, managers from local tanning salons say they are the busiest with teenage customers.
“The regulars tend to shy away during homecoming and prom,” said Christine, the Assistant Manager of Tanfastic.
Andrea Pagliai, an employee at Tropical Tan, stated that about 50% of the clients at the salon are men. Also, their salon is serious about giving warnings and there are signs posted about wearing eye protection.
It is hard to find a male who tans but Kurt Farmer, a senior at Penn Manor high school, is one of few.
Farmer went tanning last winter with his cousin because he liked how it looked. Not only is it women that think they look better from tanning, it can be men also.
Nearly 30 million people in the United States use tanning beds every year. Among these 30 million people, 70% of them are Caucasian females from the ages of 16 to 49 years old.
Farmer knows all about the dangers of tanning. But will it get him to stop?
“No,” he said.
It seems that even when people are given the facts on the dangers of tanning, they will continue to do so because of the way it makes them look.
By Cassey Graeff