The Truth about Tanning

I had really wanted to see the above documentary on bbc3, presented by Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud fame, so was so annoyed with myself for forgetting it was on. Thanks to bbc iplayer I was able to watch it online.

Tanning is a subject that I'm quite opinionated on. Being a (very)pale skinned lady myself although one or two people may have comented on the shade of my skin, I never felt it was something I had to defend or try to cover up. It was only really when I moved to Liverpool ten years ago that I was confronted with an abundance of girls who were either sunbed addicts or fans of fake tan. People who live in or who have been to Liverpool, will know that I'm not unfairly pinpointing scouseland as a centre for varying shades of skintones, although apparently the epidemic is even worse in Newcastle.

My Grandad always had a very dark tan, of the leathery working class variety- a result of a career working outside as a gardener. Back then a tan was a stamp of the working class and being pale was respected and middle class.

Now it's hard to define what a tan symbolises. It went through a stage of being something all the celebs had, as they could either afford expensive holidays in the sun or had the best body make up artist money could buy. But with the advent of cheap flights, companies like easyjet and ryanair made it easier for the worse off to get the more natural type of sun shower, rather than the one they were used to paying £3 for 3 minutes for.

The documentary has really changed my perception of Nicola Roberts and I commend her honesty about the hours she would spend applying bottles of body make up in an attempt to look the same as her Girls Aloud bandmates. Of course it's sad that until now there have been no real regulations or laws to monitor the countless numbers of tanning shops that have sprung up all over the country. It looks as though something is now being done about that. The two young people who were brave enough to give up their fake tan/sunbed sessions for a month both looked miles better without it and I really hope that is the way forward.

I've had a couple of moles removed and the programme higlighted the fear that you feel when they are sent off for testing. Because your life is too much to pay for a good suntan. You have to learn to love yourself in the skin you're in. Otherwise, who will?


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