Editor, The Record:
During the month of March, schools across B.C. kicked off the second annual Canadian Cancer Society Tan Free Grad Challenge and I am excited to be a student leader for this campaign and to help spread the word about the dangers of tanning.
The fact is no tan is a safe tan. Research shows that any use of indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 can actually increase a person’s risk of melanoma by 75 per cent. This is why Health Minister de Jong announced recently announced that the B.C. government will restrict access to indoor tanning beds for youth under the age of 18. This is an important first step and I strongly support this legislation.
Over the last few weeks I have learned that while many of my friends and classmates know tanning is unhealthy, they continue to want to a bronzy glow. I have heard a lot of tanning myths that can lead young people to make poor decisions. For instance, many people believe that indoor tanning is safe or that we need a base tan or the sun is the only way to get vitamin D. Research has proven otherwise, but people still believe tanning is OK.
In addition, today’s youth still feel a lot of peer pressure to look a certain way. We see celebrities with bronzed skin and we believe it is impossible to feel beautiful unless we achieve this look as well.
It is my hope that the culture of beauty can change to the point where high school students would never jeopardize their health to live up to a certain image.
Although the regulation protects youth under 18 from using tanning beds, it is important to remember that over-exposure to indoor and outdoor tanning can be harmful for everyone.
As a leader in the Tan Free Grad Challenge at Mission Secondary School this past month, I have learned about the dangers of tanning beds and am truly frightened for the people in my grad class who, despite our efforts, refuse to believe that tanning is harmful and have chosen to continue doing it. I hope that they, and others, will soon realize how harmful it is and see that beauty does not come from the colour of our skin.