Mother Daughter Bonding Takes a Dangerous Turn

Sasha Brown-Worsham

We all know just how bad indoor tanning is for us, and yet according to recent research, mothers are still taking their daughters -- as young as 14 -- to tanning beds. Come again? Seriously.

When asked where they started tanning, an astounding 40 percent of respondents said they learned it from their mothers.

Indoor tanning, it seems, has become in many families a mother-daughter bonding ritual, like shopping or going to the hairdresser, according to The New York Times.

Kids learning from their parents is nothing new, of course. Does anyone remember the 1980s-era "I learned it from watching you" PSA? Yep. This is kind of like that. Does anyone really go tanning anymore?

Apparently they do. Despite knowing the risks and the dangers inherent to indoor tanning, people are still doing it. These risks include:

  • Studies have found a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning.
  • Studies have demonstrated that exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning damages the DNA in the skin cells. Excessive exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning can lead to premature skin aging, immune suppression, and eye damage, including cataracts and ocular melanoma.
  • Indoor tanning beds/lamps should be avoided and should not be used to obtain vitamin D because UV radiation from indoor tanning is a risk factor for skin cancer. Vitamin D can be obtained by a eating a healthy diet and by taking oral supplements.

If the risks weren't reason enough, it's just plain tacky. An indoor tan in winter? It's obvious you're doing something unhealthy to achieve that. Besides, what are you teaching your daughter? That she isn't pretty without skin cancer?

It's hard to imagine even the most horrific of mothers handing her 13-year-old a pack of Marlboros and teaching her to light up, so how is this much different? Typically, I assume the best about moms. I assume that we all love our children and that we all want what is best for them, but this gives me pause.

The World Health Organization classifies indoor tanning as a Class 1 carcinogen, the same class as tobacco. If you're tanning with your child and thinking you're superior to moms who teach their kids to light up, think again.

Would you ever take your daughter tanning?


Image via Flickr/ Evil Erin

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