The Trouble With Tanning: Why Needing a “Natural Glow” is Bullshit
Nicole W | On 13, Aug 2013
Oh, how society loves to toy with our female minds. We’re supposed to be thin but not too thin, we’re supposed to be sexy but never too sexy, we’re supposed to wear high heels but not the kind that make you look like a “street walker,” and in the last few years, it’s been decided (mainly according to the media, specifically women’s fashion and beauty magazines) that we should have a “healthy, sun-kissed glow” if we want to look our best.
Well, newsflash, women’s media: This so-called “healthy glow” is pretty damn hard to achieve, since the majority of us cannot afford those ridiculously expensive self-tanners (the ones that, supposedly, actually work), and those of us who go to school or work full-time jobs typically don’t have enough time to bask in the sun outdoors (with proper lotion, of course!). Thus, tanning beds may seem like a the only alternative, even though most publications warn against them! And it’s somewhat ironic (or perhaps, hypocritical) when you think about it, because the same mediums are telling us to be tan if we want to look good, but also that we shouldn’t do anything unsafe or take it too far — be tan but only in our specific way!
Countless women’s publications also love to ask the question, “Do men prefer tan women?” And the male consensus is generally something along the same lines of what the magazines have been providing with their statements on how it’s best to acquire (or lather on) that “radiant glow.” Most men that these publications “survey” will usually respond with something like, “I prefer women with a nice, natural-looking tan, not the kind that looks orange, or like they’re trying too hard.” And this is problematic for several reasons.
For starters, it shouldn’t matter if certain men consider tanner women to be more attractive than pale women — this is just playing into the idea that we need to cater our appearances to what men find desirable. But what’s also troublesome is the fact that, once again, even though this is suggesting we learn how to get a “healthy” tan, it’s still implying that tan skin looks better, and indirectly leads women to use harmful tanning beds or spend ridiculous amounts of money on tanning lotions in order to pursue some elusive beauty “ideal.”
There is also a really frustrating stigma that comes with being a “too tan” female. “She looks like an Oompa Loompa” or “She’s tanorexic” are things we’ve all probably overheard at one point or another. And as I mentioned in my post about “crazy bitches,” it’s never cool to make a play off a word that is fundamentally associated with a serious illness. It has also been suggested that tanning can be addictive, so either way, let’s stop using that word to make fun of people for being “too tan,” shall we?
Or even better, why don’t we stop making fun of girls for being “too tan” entirely? “She tries way too hard” is another idea that often gets attributed to girls and women who look “unnaturally” tan, but when the media is constantly telling us that we need to be tan in order to look and feel good, why are we condemning women for attempting to follow suit?
Anyway, reinforcing that tanned skin will give you confidence or make you appear thinner,or whatever else they’ve come up with is just plain shallow and stupid. There’s nothing wrong with trying new things or wanting to better yourself in some aspect, but it is wrong when those ideas come from societal compulsion. Surely many people enjoy getting a tan in the summer or on vacation. But no one, especially impressionable young girls, should ever have to feel as though they need to be tan in order to look good. And it’s society’s influence that should receive a bad reputation, not the girls who tan compulsively.
Written By Nicole Woszczyna