Once upon a time, the glow of a tan embodied a vision of health and beauty.
Not so in 2013, as a hot new slogan, “Tanning is Out,” is what is on trend.
Last week was “Sun Awareness Week,” and the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) recognized more than 8,000 students in high schools across B.C. who took a pledge to be tan-free this year.
“We had about 120 students sign up to pledge that they wouldn’t tan this summer,” said Kelsa Quakenbush, a Grade 12 J.L. Crowe Secondary student, who organized the campaign.
“So many people are out there burning themselves to be tanned and trying to be pretty,” she said.
“They really don’t need to in the name of beauty, because it is damaging and just not worth it.”
The CCS “Tanning is Out” initiative promotes a peer-to-peer based model to educate students about the dangers of both indoor and outdoor tanning.
Since 2011, the CCA along with high school students, has encouraged youth to “own their own skin-tone,” in spite of some of the social pressures to be tanned.
As a former Miss Trail princess, Quakenbush became aware of the “Tanning is Out” campaign when she attended a CCS conference with Trail royalty last fall.
She and a handful of classmates from grades 9 through 12, introduced the tan-free initiative to fellow students at the Royal Theatre last October.
“We set up a booth at the Twilight Breaking Dawn premiere,” explained Quakenbush.
“Because pale vampires, no tanning, it kind of worked,” she laughed.
Next, the students plastered a bulletin board at the high school with informative posters before embarking on the task of collecting pledges.
“From April 15 to 19, we held our ‘tanning is out week’ that was aimed at all students,” she said.
“Although we target Grade 12 because 18 is the legal age to use a tanning booth, this year we wanted to get the message out school-wide.”
Additionally, the committee collaborated with the school’s cold-drink bar to sell orange smoothies; a colour that epitomizes the shade many skin tones turn when using fake tan products.
Although “own your own beauty and natural skin tone” initiatives appear to focus on the female gender, “Tanning is Out” wholeheartedly invited the male student body to get on board.
“We had quite a few boys sign up this year,” said Quakenbush.
At first, the boys were reluctant, citing outdoor summer employment, but after discussion about skin protection and safe ways to be in the sun, at least 50 signed up.
“They (boys) didn’t care as much about being tanned, it was more related to their work,” she said.
“Whereas most girls were more reluctant to sign because they like to bake out in the sun.”
According to Canadian cancer statistics, skin cancer is one of the most common and preventable forms of cancer in the country.
“You can still go out in the sun and get your vitamin D,” said Quackenbush.
“But go out earlier in the day and always wear sunscreen.”
In 1944, the first tanning lotion to darken skin was invented by American pharmacist Benjamin Green.
Fast forward to 1953, and the “Coppertone” girl was unveiled, along with the ad slogan, “Don’t be a paleface.”
Times are changing and since 2011, more than 17,000 B.C. students have pledged to be tan-free.