I’ve always found the history of tanning rather interesting. In the past, before the industrial age, tan skin was considered extremely undesirable. The white, soft skin prized by the aesthetic of the times could only be reached by spending a life indoors, as only the wealthy could do. People would even taken arsenic or use lead-based powders on their skin for a pale appearance.
By the end of the Victorian era, poorer people were going into factories to work, and so suddenly it wasn’t only the wealthy who were pale. Physicians in that era also began recommending sun exposure as a cure for various illnesses, (it did wonders for rickets). Shortly after, Coco Chanel (a style icon of the time) began sporting a tan, and Josephine Baker’s “caramel skin” (she was African-American) was sought after. Soon it was very desirable to be tan.
We now know that unlimited sun exposure can be dangerous, as can sunburns and sun tanning. It can increase the risk of skin cancer dramatically, as well as cause early wrinkling and skin damage. And yet tan skin is still in fashion in some circles. So if a teen is hankering for a golden glow, what’s a parent supposed to do? Let’s look at options.
(This post obviously is more aimed towards light-skinned teens. We’ll be looking at sun health for darker-skinned teens in a forthcoming post.)
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