I would rather die hot than ugly


On the platform, now the social media ground zero of beauty trends, #tanning has generated 4.1 billion views.
An online shopper searching for “tanning” can find about 200 different tanning products on both Sephora’s and Ulta’s websites.
AdvertisementInfluencers say the proliferation of tanned complexions and tanning products on social media has become impossible to ignore in the past few years.
Shammout, who is Lebanese American, has long been a tanning enthusiast, and Bronzed by Carrot ties into her heritage, she says.
She noticed how popular the tanning aesthetic — and tanning products — had gotten online, especially among Americans.
The tanning brand initially began as a hobby, then became a full-time job because of the demand, Shammout said.
With the encouragement of an employee, they land on the “Lindsey Lohan special” — a combo of tanning bed and spray tan.
Reardon started buying tanning oils and self-tanning mousses; she developed a tanning routine she shared with her audience last year.
Racism and classism have long been tangled up in tanning, too, even if the market for tanning products has become more diverse.
There’s the fetishistic (Ed Hardy makes a “Baby got black” tanning oil) and the bizarre (Rachel Dolezal used tanning to masquerade as a Black woman).

The pursuit of the ‘perfect tan,’ whether achieved through sun exposure or product application, is a contradictory ideal of beauty.

It is both a health symbol and a terrible thing for your body. It results in wrinkles as well as a youthful glow. It’s a status symbol that’s also made fun of. It both conceals and accentuates flaws. And billions of dollars are made from the desire for it. Naturally, we’re referring to the tan, which is still seen as the pinnacle of beauty and is even experiencing a bit of a comeback.

While Jennifer Lawrence’s tan resembled the gold statuette being awarded, Matthew McConaughey and Bradley Cooper wore sun-baked hues reminiscent of professional surfers and cattle ranchers at the Oscars on Sunday night. Tanning bed backlash has been observed on TikTok; some attribute it to Generation Z, while others point the finger at early influencers like Kim Kardashian, who recently shared a photo of one in her workspace. Tanning has received 4 billion views on the platform, which is currently the social media epicenter for beauty trends. Video accounts from young ladies who identify as tanning “addicts” are among those included. One such post said, “It’s a problem but I’d rather die hot than live ugly I guess yolo lol sun bed.”. “).

You can gauge how easy and sophisticated tanning has become by perusing the beauty aisles, where you will find bronzing creams and powders, mitts and towels, lotions and serums that promise a gradual, “natural” look. On the websites of Sephora and Ulta, a customer looking for “tanning” can find roughly 200 different tanning products.

Toggle between this and the previous paragraph. The Style section of The Washington Post provides in-depth reporting and a personal touch on events occurring in the fields of the arts, media, politics, social trends, and yes, fashion. Click here for more Style stories. End of carousel Penny Coy, an Ulta Beauty executive in charge of merchandising, said, “Year after year, we continue to see so much innovation in self-tanning and bronzing products.”. New items that “address the pain points of self-tanning” are included in this, according to Coy. These include express formulas, back tan applicators, buff and blending brushes, removal and exfoliating mitts, and products with “clean” and “conscious” ingredients. New and confusing technologies are competing to enter our medicine cabinets on the periphery of the beauty industry. Examples include nasal sprays that stimulate the production of melanin in the body and pills that color skin from the inside out.


According to influencers, it’s hard to overlook the rise in tanned skin tones and tanning products on social media in the last several years.

Bronzed by Carrot is a tanning-accelerating cream that promises a “bronzed, sun-kissed tan” in 30 minutes. Sara Shammout, a 23-year-old fashion student, recently launched her own tanning brand.

Shammout, a Lebanese American, has always loved tanning, and she claims that Bronzed by Carrot is a nod to her heritage. Her memories of her childhood in Lebanon are evoked by tanning. There, she spent her days swimming in the sea and soaking up the sun on the beach, and her mornings started with a breakfast of flatbreads, ful medames, and cheese. Shammout’s mom used sunscreen and a tanning oil with carrot extract, while her father would slather olive oil all over his skin.

Her observation was the growing popularity of tanning products and the tanning aesthetic on the internet, particularly among Americans. Shammout tried several self-tanners as well, but the color turned out too orange for her liking.

According to Shammout, the tanning brand started out as a hobby before growing into a full-time business due to demand.

Shammout is aware of the dangers of tanning, which include skin cancer, just like the majority of young people. She adds that she makes an effort to reduce those risks by wearing sunscreen constantly and tanning sparingly. She still finds herself drawn to the sun and its warm, caramelized glow.

“I’m happier because I think I look healthier,” Shammout remarked. “I always feel like the best version of myself. “.

According to Susan Stewart, author of “Painted Faces: A Colorful History of Cosmetics,” tanned skin was considered a desirable appearance for men for a significant portion of Western history, despite the fact that women currently make up the majority of the market for tanning beds and self-tanning products. Going back to ancient times, being outside with little to no clothing was a sign of strength and virility for Roman men.

A bronze sheen was not a goddess-like glow for women in the West. Whiteness shone, not the Greek goddesses, according to Stewart. Paleness was associated with purity and ethereality for many millennia. It was also a result of the heavy clothing standards placed on women: “Until the 20th century, very little of a woman’s skin would have been exposed. “.

After the industrial revolution, when hard, physical labor moved indoors to factories and warehouses, tanned skin became fashionable. Meanwhile, wealthy people flocked to sun-filled locations such as the French Riviera, where getting tanned was an inevitable result of their carefree days. No one personified that luxury more than Coco Chanel, who is recognized for popularizing the tanned look after pictures of her taken in the 1920s just off a Mediterranean cruise went viral. Stewart referred to her as an “early influencer.”. ).


When air travel became more accessible for Americans and Europeans in the 1960s, the bronzed look gained popularity. Being tanned was now more often connected to trips to far-off places, like the sun-drenched beaches of Puerto Vallarta or the immaculate pools of Los Angeles. “It’s all about wealth and status again,” Stewart remarked. “See what I can afford?”. “.”.

Then, tanning salons appeared in the late 1970s, and the 1980s maximalism that followed saw an explosion in their popularity. They looked to have peaked in the early 2000s, when the craze for tans even gave rise to the brief “Sunset Tan” reality show on E!. “.

Britney Spears is the first client in the pilot episode, which aired in May 2007 and is a time capsule of the period. The woman enters the store with her daughter, who looks to be no older than twelve, and she is dressed in a plaid dress that is obviously a school uniform. This is the moment that raises the most eyebrows. The mother remarks that her daughter’s school photos would benefit from a tan. They choose the “Lindsey Lohan special,” which combines a spray tan and tanning bed, at the suggestion of a staff member.

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L is this person. An. the employee teases the camera, “You have to be the tannest kid in the class.”.

The stories of tanning gone wild that serve as warnings about its pervasiveness in culture are as follows: the notorious “Tan Mom,” who was accused of taking her 5-year-old to the tanning bed; the ostentatious “Gym, Tan, Laundry” fantasies of the cast of “Jersey Shore”; the tangerine glow of George Hamilton, John A. Boehner and, naturally, Donald. SPF and 10-step skin care regimens appeared to replace the tan as we knew it for a while—a bold, audacious, and shameless look.

Then the tan gained new life thanks to Instagram and TikTok.

A few years ago, Holly Reardon, a 26-year-old marketing professional, says she didn’t give tanning much thought until her social media accounts started becoming more popular. Her routines, the goods she buys and uses, the meals she prepares, and her workouts are all documented in her TikToks. Reardon believes that the relatability of her content is what draws readers in.

Still, Reardon claimed that as she browsed through her timeline, she was overwhelmed by pictures of sun-kissed influencers and the goods they were pushing. Reardon was acutely conscious of her pale appearance in the ring light due to her constant exposure to pictures of herself.

Reardon began purchasing self-tanning mousses and oils; last year, she created a tanning regimen that she revealed to her audience. That video, though it’s been over six months, has been trending recently, according to Reardon; she surmises that people must be looking for tanning content and coming across her.

Reardon feels more assured when he has a tan. She perceives a greater definition in her muscles. She thinks she has lost weight and looks more attractive. However, she also believes that if she weren’t online, she wouldn’t be as committed.


Reardon stated, “I really wouldn’t care if I didn’t have social media.”.

A tan’s ability to cover up apparent flaws is part of its allure. Fans of tanning claim that it can treat psoriasis, clear up acne, and even even out their complexion; however, these claims are only partially true. While darkening one’s skin can help conceal imperfections for a while, tanning can actually make breakouts worse after those effects wear off.

Additionally, while standard sun beds primarily emit UVA light, which does not have the same benefits as UVB light, phototherapy, which uses UVB light, can treat psoriasis. Overusing tanning beds increases the risk of cancer, but it also increases the risk of developing tan addiction and tan dysphoria, which are real conditions that can harm a person’s physical and mental health in addition to their self-worth.

Some have compared tanning to unhealthy habits like drinking or smoking, which we all know is bad for us but nevertheless find enjoyable and somewhat glamorous. However, being tan is closely linked to our perceptions of what constitutes “health,” unlike drinking and smoking. It could be that we are choosing potential skin damage over what it truly means to be healthy because we have grown accustomed to performing health. There is even a membership level at Planet Fitness that grants unrestricted use of the tanning beds and booths.

According to beauty writer and critic Jessica DeFino, there is an increasing issue in the world of beauty with health being seen as an aesthetic rather than a state of being.

According to DeFino, this tension is more noticeable now that sunless tanners are becoming more and more popular. The newest goods promise easier application and more natural outcomes. They can undoubtedly feel well because there are no UV rays or skin damage. However, becoming fixated on appearances could mean we’re ignoring the very things that improve our health, like sunlight, fresh air, and being in nature.

“People place more value on projecting the correct image than on leading the kind of life that image suggests,” the speaker stated.

Tanning has historically been associated with racism and classism as well, despite the fact that the market for tanning products has expanded in diversity. There are the ludicrous (Rachel Dolezal used tanning to pass for a Black woman) and the fetishistic (Ed Hardy makes a “Baby got black” tanning oil). However, DeFino also points out something unsettling: while Americans with lighter skin tones can take a pill to improve their appearance and seem “healthier,” Black and Brown people, who naturally produce more melanin, must deal with actual health, social, and financial consequences related to their skin tone.

Promoting something.

When considering tanning as an individual decision, it is difficult to see how it is detrimental to society as a whole (could a little bronzer really be so bad?). DeFino contends that despite this, ideals of beauty are a collective experience composed of all of our individual choices. The 2010s contoured look, which was achieved by using makeup to highlight and darken one’s facial features, begot the desire for fillers to achieve that look more permanently, which begot the obsession with surgically removing one’s buccal fat. As a result, the stakes to acquire and maintain that beauty have increased, as has the price tag.

Thus, according to DeFino, we’re moving toward a kind of beauty that requires us to harm ourselves, whether it’s by tanning, “fat-sculpting,” or adding to the expanding body of dysmorphic disorders. Recognize that skin bleaching, not skin darkening, has emerged as a public health concern in non-Western nations like Nigeria, the Philippines, and India.

What are we really saying to ourselves when the color of our skin becomes a blank canvas for an increasingly limited and unachievable definition of beauty? According to DeFino, it’s this: “No matter where you are, no matter what your skin tone is, it could be different and should be different.”. “.

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