Monday, August 27, 2012

A couple of high school students in my neighborhood recently told me they are getting ready to hit the beach this summer by tuning up Harry Winston Replica Watch their suntans inside tanning beds.

When I asked one of my colleagues here at Penn, Dr. William James, a professor of dermatology, if the high school students had the right idea about getting a head start on a tan, he laughed out loud. A tan, he said, represents nothing more than damage to the skin. It is the body trying to defend itself against an Replica Ed Hardy Watches environmental hazard Replica Roger Dubuis Watch ?too much UV light. In other words, indoor tanning gets you ready for the beach in the same way that getting scalded in a hot tub gets you ready to be boiled alive.

So who is to blame for the idea that damaged skin is beautiful? Why do so Replica Tommy Bahama Watch many societies view a tan as a sign of radiant health rather than as a sign that you are starting to resemble a charcoal broiled steak? The main culprit, of course, is the fashion industry.

Prior to the 20th century women were fanatical about avoiding exposure to the sun. Umbrellas and parasols went everywhere with any woman who could afford them. The French fashion designer Coco Chanel changed all that.

Back in the 1920s, Coco, looking to create a new ealthy?look to promote summer wear, popularized tanned skin. Women began sunbathing and those with a tan were seen in high society as beautiful. Voila! Skin damage as fashion accessory. Youe gotta love an industry that has made anorexia and damaged skin cool.

Other interests piled on to make dough out of burnt skin. The beauty and suntan lotion businesses make billions every year selling goop so we can lounge in the sun with far less protection then the industry would have you believe their nostrums provide.

The travel industry also likes this look. Having a tan in the winter means the toasted soul has taken a vacation in an exotic, warm climate. That why hotels and travel promoters regale us with images of people with brown, damaged skin frolicking around pools and beaches without a hat, a coverup or an umbrella in sight.

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