Dear Gabby: About Tanning

Sweetheart, I get that having sun-kissed skin “looks healthy.”  I get that it’s “in” right now, and that you have peers whose parents allow them to tan.  That you have adults you look up to that seemingly don’t have issues with skin cancer or leathery skin.  But that does not negate the FACT that tanning, whether indoors or outdoors is not a “healthy” thing for you to do, and I will not be condoning it for my children, including you.  Sighs, hints, conversations with your friends that I can hear will not change my mind.

I am sorry that I will not let you look like this:


When you’re 40 and not looking like this, you will thank me:


When you’re 40 and you hear, “My goodness, you still look like a college kid!” or get mistaken for sister missionaries, you will thank me.  When your heart doesn’t leap to your throat because you find a scary mole (because you don’t have any!) you can thank me.  When your daughter asks why she can’t tan like her friends, you can thank me:

And if my heart-felt counsel and refusal to give permission doesn’t sway your mind, perhaps statistics and facts will.  So find a safe self-tanner that has high approval ratings for a natural affect and I am SO there.  But tanning, NEVER.  Not any more than I’d approve your first cigarette, alcohol, suggest obesity, watch benignly as you play with asbestos or other carcinogens.

From The Melanoma Foundation of New England:

  1. The World Health Organization has determined that UV rays from tanning beds cause cancer.
  2. People who use tanning beds once a month before the age of 35 increase their melanoma risk by 75%.
  3. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, kills one person every 50 minutes.  It is the second most common cancer for young adults aged 15-29 years old. Rates for melanoma are increasing faster than nearly all other cancers.
  4. It doesn’t take a sunburn – tan skin is damaged skin

Click here to see why Brynna Thornberry’s wishes she never went tanning.’s statement on tanning. (PS, you personally know a young child that died of cancer.  Why would you ever do something to give yourself a higher chance of going through that yourself?)

Doctor Oz responds to the statement that “Salon’s tell customers that tanning beds are safe” and other facts.

The CDC’s fact sheet and cites on tanning.

Newsflash! Skin that is tanned, even slightly, not just burned is a sign of damage!

The FDA’s fact sheet on how tanning causes cancer, burns, premature aging, and eye damage.

39% of 14-17-year-olds incorrectly believe indoor tanning is safer than sun, survey found.

Teens Should Be Banned From Tanning Booths, Doctor’s Say.


From the article, “Dose of Vanity Prescribed for Tanning Addicts:

“When I look back on the things I did when I was younger,” says 49-year-old Kylee Baumle, a former sun goddess whose father and husband were recently diagnosed with skin cancer, “all those hours I spent working on my tan by the pool — I have to wonder, ‘What was I thinking?’”

It’s a good question — and one that many are asking today’s teens and twentysomethings, who, despite repeated warnings about harmful UV rays, continue to flock to beaches and tanning booths.

Melanoma is currently the second most common cancer among 20- to 29-year-old women, yet many continue to spend long hours “working on their tans,” like the now-remorseful Baumle once did. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the incidence of melanoma has increased 690 percent from 1950 to 2001, and the overall mortality rate has increased 165 percent during this same period.

With that kind of disconnect, it’s no surprise researchers and health care professionals are racking their brains trying to figure out what speaks to this seemingly deaf and decidedly looks-conscious crowd.

Oddly enough, the answer may be vanity.

“Sitting in the sun definitely ages you,” says 16-year-old Claire Nelson, who uses sunblock every day, even in not-so-sunny Seattle. “I know I’m going to get wrinkles some day, but I don’t want to end up with wrinkles at age 20 from tanning.”


Tanning indoors and outdoors has become very popular and is extremely detrimental to your skin causing premature aging of the skin and higher risks of skin cancer in later years… The risk is greatest for people with fair skin; blonde, red or light hair; and blue, green or grey eyes.

And from USAToday:

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, has classified ultraviolet radiation from tanning beds as a Class 1 carcinogen, the same category as tobacco smoke and asbestos. Linos says the study lends support to state and city efforts to ban children and teens from tanning salons.

So take it from dear old mom. I’m not just being overprotective, mean, cheap, a worry-wart, less-cool than your friend’s mom.  I’m being smart, safe, and giving you a better future.”


4 thoughts on “Dear Gabby: About Tanning

  1. I couldnt agree more. I used to worship the sun…and at 43…I dont think I quite look like that pic…but I have had melanoma…and endured 4 months of recovery from excision and skin graft to remove it. The bronzed goddess look is just not worth it. Hope Gabby understands that you do what you do because you love her.

  2. Ugh, tough lesson to teach young women. I was there once. I’m lucky in that I haven’t suffered any skin issues from it, but at the very least, just think of all the money I could’ve saved by not tanning in a booth. Bleh. And to paraphrase something I once read, “Casper over cancer”.

  3. Angie, I’m just glad that all is well with you now. And no, you don’t look like the lady in that second pic, thank goodness!

    Keisha, I like my freckles. I’m not sure I ever noticed yours, to be honest!

    I miss you ladies, BTW!

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