Many teenagers do it; many enjoy doing it. Many spend oodles of money on it and it only takes about 20 minutes three times each week. Such little work for such dramatic results that you carry around with you 24/7…so what is the drawback?

This thing that I am talking about is artificial tanning and it has become something that teenagers have become more interested in, especially as the prom season is once again upon us (in fact, Prom 2011 at my local High School is taking place as I write this post). An interesting group of students throughout Canada are using this prom season to send a message about artificial tanning; they want teenagers to abstain. Why is this? Recent studies have shown a dramatic increase in the instance of melanoma (a form of cancer) in young women who tan regularly. The World Health Organization has labeled artificial tanning beds as a type 1 carcinogen; other things in this category include tobacco and arsenic.

Though not necessarily a trendy option (that is, not to tan) it may well be a logical one. The difficulty is that popular media portrays the popular, good looking and healthy individuals as those who sport a tan.

I have to admit that when Mandy and I got married I went tanning…this was recommended because we were heading to the Caribbean for our honeymoon. Even worse, I loved tanning; it was not just about dark skin, I found the whole experience extremely relaxing and quite a nice stress relief after a long day. I guess I have learned to distress with other less harmful activities these days.

It seems so interesting that we in Canada are obsessed with making our skin darker whereas in other cultures people are obsessed with making their skin fairer. When Mandy and I did an STM in Thailand I encountered many individuals for whom dark skin was a sign of inferiority. Those with dark skin were forced to do manual labor where they were continually exposed to the elements. In these cultures it is the noble class with the fair skin.

For these folks light really is the new dark. Will this trend make it in our culture? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

(The original article concerning this can be found at