"Tan Mom" Pamela Krentcil has brought the idea of "tanorexia" to the forefront of indoor tanning and skin cancer conversations. The condition sounds like a joke coined by some social media meme, but it's actually a very serious, life-threatening affliction that causes people to tan excessively due to an irrational perception that they're unacceptably pale.
Much like people who suffer from anorexia suffer from a distorted body image, so do people with tanorexia. It's often confused with tanning addiction, which refers to the chemical processes in the brain that chang one's perception of the tanning experience.
Many people who frequent tanning salons and strive to achieve a tan naturally experience a certain degree of this unfortunate perception. Regardless whether it's tanorexia or tanning addiction, it looks ridiculous, and leads to health issues that are 100 percent avoidable. Here's a look at the case of "Tan Mom," and five other people who basically sleep in tanning beds.
Patricia Krentcil ("Tan Mom")
Krentcil first came into the spotlight when she was accused of allowing her five-year old daughter to join her in a stand-up tanning booth. She pleaded not guilty in court, and claimed the girl sustained first degree burns from being exposed to the natural sunlight outdoors. Well, if that's true, that story opens a whole new can of bad parenting worms. But that's not the point.
Now, whether you believe her story or not, there's no arguing the profound case of tanorexia this woman experienced. Recent news reports have revealed that she's stopped tanning, and has even returned to her modeling roots.
"I feel weird and pale," she said, "but everyone says I look better less tan."
You bet you do, lady.
MTV's True Life: I'm Addicted to Tanning
This show spotlights people with addictions that affect their health, their finances, and their overall well-being. It usually includes one-on-one interviews and observations of the subject with family members, classmates, and friends who are concerned for their health and safety throughout the show.
This episode of the MTV reality show features a 19-year old boy named Billy, who has an undeniable addiction to indoor tanning beds. He claims he doesn't feel attractive when he's not tanning incessantly, so he spends a considerable amount of time at indoor tanning facilities each day. We're talking three sessions per day. Seven days a week.
His skin exuded a hue that's anything but a healthy glow; it's brown in color, leathery in texture, and shows signs of aging decades before lines should have ever started marching across his young face. Billy's family and friends urge him to curb the tanning habit, as they fear for his health.
The episode follows Billy as he visits a dermatologist, who explains to him that the best-case scenario for him is that he'll look stupid as he ages, and the worst case is that he'll die of skin cancer. In an astonishing display of ignorance, these scenarios seem to be the first time Billy has ever heard this information.
"I never thought that I could actually kill myself from trying to look good and tan. I guess I’ve gone too far," he said. Thankfully, he (reluctantly) accepts the reality that he will die of skin cancer if he doesn't cut it out; and he cut it out, and switched to self-tanners instead.
He might benefit from taking a trip to a place like Miami Salon and Spa, where they specialize in medical spa treatments to enhance one's aesthetic appearance. They at least might be able to reverse some of the punishment he's put his skin through.
Alyssa, on the other hand, isn't as receptive to common sense and logic as Billy is. She starts out the episode blowing $300 on her mother's credit card on tanning fees, and even earns the title Tanner of the Month. Her mother cuts her off, and Alyssa is outraged.
She never does come around to accepting the inevitable damage she's inflicting on her body with her obsessive tanning. Ultimately she reduces her tanning sessions (likely due to budgetary constraints), but still goes what most would consider regularly, if not frequently.
Featured on the Today Show's Extreme Tanning segment in July 2012, model Trisha Paytas claims she won't stop tanning, even if she gets skin cancer. "Just scrape it off and keep going," she boldly states, effectively trivializing one of the most deadliest forms of cancer.
She says she hasn't missed a day of tanning in ten years. She even goes twice some days. She's always looked up to stars like Pamela Anderson, Bert Reynolds, and even Barbie. The segment then goes on to include commentary by Dr. Jennifer Ashton, who cautions against daily sun exposure, even in small amounts, and points out that people of all races are at risk for cancer due to sun exposure.
That anyone would want to devote that much time, energy and money (let alone the years off their lifespans) to have leathery brown skin is unfathomable to many of us. For others, it's a real treatable addiction, and still others simple stubborn ignorance. Take some lessons from these people who practically sleep in tanning beds. Possibly get some coverage at homeinsurance.com so at least you’re covered when it isn’t just your skin burning. Save your money, your skin, and your youth by sticking to spray-on tans instead. Better yet -- embrace your paleness. Thanks to hipsters and emos, it's all the rage now anyway.