I have a very embarrassing confession that may come as a shock to you.
I have tanorexia. (Don’t laugh!)
Wikipedia defines tanorexia as the term often used to describe a condition in which a person participates in excessive outdoor sun tanning or excessive use of other skin tanning methods (such as tanning beds) to achieve a darker skin complexion because they perceive themselves as unacceptably pale.
Maybe it’s the Jersey girl in me, but ever since I can remember I’ve been all about being tan during the summer months. I will tan and tan, then look at myself in the mirror and see a pale-skinned girl, which then forces me back out on the mission to do whatever I can to get more tan. I have fair skin and light eyes so so I’ve never been one to get super dark. I’m also more at risk for skin cancer due to sun exposure. I’m not talking about the ugly orange tan look, that is unattractive. Being too tan is never a good look. I just like color, that sun-kissed look as if you spend the day at the beach.
The history of my obsession began at an early age. I can remember enjoying the tan lines my speedo would create from summer morning swim practices when I was younger. In my early teens my girlfriends and I would actually cut out the initials of the boys we were crushing on with tape, stick to a part of our body and let the sun tan around them to express our summer crush! I was a year-round swimmer, so during the colder months after my tan would fade, I would apply sunless tanning cream each day to maintain some level of color to my skin. Through high school and college I would bake while life-guarding and on my summer weeks down the shore. I spent my nights itchy with sunburned skin and would heal my burns with my fresh aloe plant. Then once I graduated college and started working at Boca Salons as a receptionist, I had access to a tanning bed whenever I needed it. Those 15 minutes in the bed each day of work were the most relaxing moments of my day, and I’d walk out looking bronzed and feeling pretty. That began my tanning bed obsession. Why would I need to lay out for hours in the blazing hot sun when I could just pop into a bed and get a mega-quick dose of color without the hassle or the burn?! For years now, every summer I basically have avoided laying out in the natural sun, but rather would buy packages for tanning bed sessions. On the beach I would apply 30 sunblock, cover up with a hat and lie under an umbrella like a grandmother. BUT, every week I would happily pop into Hollywood tans for a quick 8 minute session to bronze myself up. Oh and I forgot to mention, I’ve been hiding the fact that I’ve been actually going to tanning salons for YEARS now to almost everyone I know. VERY few friends and family know. Sick.
So, I am happy to say that this is the first summer that I am completely refusing to walk into a tanning salon and hop into a bed. It’s been a constant struggle, but I’m really determined not to do it. Instead I’m carefully getting natural sun tans from the sun (I’ll lie out for about a half hour with no protection, then apply my 30 sunblock and/or head under some shade), and I’ve also gone back to using a bronzing sunless tanning lotion (on the more natural side).
Do you have a tanning obsession like I do? I’d love to connect with others who want to tan it up just like I do!