Friday, January 11, 2008

My battle with Tanorexia

I know you think that your eyes have decieved you. You just read that title and you are thinking, "Huh, what? Tanorexia?" Well if you haven't been living under a rock for the past 5 years than you should be well aware that Tanorexia is a disease that afflicts countless Americans each year. The Tara Reids, the Paris Hiltons, and sadly, yes, the Lindsay Lohans of our great nation fall victim to this nasty predator all the time. And I myself can commiserate, for I too, understand this battle.

Since I was a wee little babe I worshipped the sun. I remember a vacation in Arizona with my mom in middle school when I declared I wanted a new bathing suit to fulfill my pursuit of the perfect "tummy tan." My love for the sun was certainly passed down to me from my own mother who would fondly impart stories of her boarding school days at Rosemary Hall when she would tan with baby oil; a method I later tried one spring at Middlebury.

In high school and college I will say that I was completely hooked on being tan. I am generally lucky to have a somewhat tanner skin tone anyways, but the discovery of the tanning both when I was 16 brought about a whole new world of indulgences. I was totally hooked on the fake'n'bake, and wasnt ashamed to admit it.

In recent years, I definitely have gone to the actual tanning booth less and less, but I can't deny that I love to be tan. I am also addicted to sunscreen--which is a good thing. I think I more fearful of being sunburned than I am pale, which is why I am obsessive about reapplying and sunscreen zoning. What is sunscreen zoning, you ask? Why it is the perfectly implemented technique of applying specific SPFs of sunscreen in very specific areas of the body. For example, SPF 30 goes on my face, while my stomach (which at the peak of my summer tan can in some light resemble a leathery object), I only need around an SPF 4. Then again, a lot of this depends on the time of year I am in the sun, length of exposure, geographical location, etc etc. Suntanning, you see is very scientific.

A great invention--and a healthy option--is the spray tan. I used to frequent the lovely Mystic Tan of Tanorama Suntanning in Portland, ME everynow and then. I was reminded of this earlier, when in a conversation with a friend, I broke down the very important need-to-knows of spray tanning. First of all, you absolutely need to have a base tan before you go in, otherwise you just look orange. It is important that when you shower beforehand (which I highly recommend) you don't use any products with oil in them because the spray tan is water-based. Furthermore, do not, repeat--DO NOT--shower or sweat for a minimum of 4 hours after the tan. I of course had some issues with the sweating bit. So, yes--that's the beauty of the mystic tan.

Before I moved to LA my brother said to me, "you'll love it--you can be tan year round!" Well maybe if I just surf and work at Barnes & Noble like he did when he was here. The way things are workig for me now is that tanning has been pushed to the sidelines, a weekend indulgence, if at all (and of course the occasional visit to the nearest tanning salon, of which LA has no shortage.)

Of course, it's healthier when you are not addicted to being tan all the time, but Tanorexia--it's real. I know.

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