Editorial: The Wrong Side of the Bed

The Harlem Shake. YOLO. Tanning.

One of these trends is not like the others.

(Hint: It’s tanning.)

While the Harlem Shake and “YOLO” might be grating on your nerves, they’re hardly harmful. Overexposure may result in aggravation or broken computer screens. But unlike tanning, neither a swaggy dance nor a swaggy word can kill you.

Why is it so cool to be tan?

Jersey Shore ended last year. We doubt anyone’s trying to look like Snooki, but sometimes we hear horror stories. One Westport tanning salon manager claimed that upwards of 50 high schoolers use his tanning beds alone in the weeks leading up to prom or other school dances. That’s almost as worrying as when Chartwells told us we could only have one slice of cheese on our sandwiches.

Seriously, though, it’s worrying.

You really don’t need to tan. You look great without it! It’s just a fad accidentally created by Coco Chanel when she got sunburnt while vacationing on the French Riviera in the 1920s. As a fashion icon, her fans followed in her toasted shadow. Thus, the tan as we know it today was born.

You might be wondering why we’re so against tanning. After all, it’s not like getting in a tanning bed once a year can really hurt you — right?

Wrong.

When you tan — either by sitting outside or by lying in a tanning bed — you’re putting yourself at serious risk for skin cancer. According to dermatologists, the first time you tan, your risk for melanoma increases by 20 percent. Subsequent tans increase your melanoma risk by 2 percent.

We aren’t trying to bring down the tanning establishments of Westport. We’re just trying to shed some light (no pun intended) on an issue that people tend to deny. Tanning simply isn’t worth it. If the threat of cancer doesn’t scare you, think about having leathery, cracked skin at the age of 50.

Do you really want to look like your great aunt Mildred from Boca?

If you’re reading this and thinking, “Uh oh,” there are alternatives to UV-based tanning that won’t interfere with your daily GTL routine. Tan towels and tanning lotion are G-rated methods of self-tanning that involve applying pigment to your body. You could even get a spray-tan, which might be a bit uncomfortable (reviewers called it “sticky”), but is definitely a safer option.

We’d like to propose a challenge: Can Staples, as a community, band together to have a UV-tan-less prom season? One doctor said it would save at least one life.

Let’s prove him right.