My Tanorexic Mama

Here she comes. You can’t miss her. She’s Orange. Now here comes the worst part: She’s got a daughter who’s looking a little pumpkin-skinned herself.

Picture this. It’s the mid-80s, and there’s me, hanging out in my backyard. Hey, what’s that I’m holding beneath my chin? Oh yes, that would be an open record album wrapped in foil. It was the latest, greatest tanvention. You just lay there, and bam, that makeshift mirror would grab all those UV rays and stab them right into your young face. Add a little baby oil, and you could do some serious baking.

Despite getting crisped, blistered and peeled like an onion, I went on to spend too many summers determined to force-tan my pale, freckled skin. It wasn’t until my friend Debby introduced me to a tanning bed that, locked inside a fry-pan coffin, I finally had time to panic, and to see the light. How could I not? It was blazing straight through my lids, threatening to scorch my eyeballs.

When it comes to tanning, I plead ignorance. Back then, we didn’t understand skin cancer. Wrinkles were for Grandmas. All we teens cared about was who had better tan lines. Our mothers were zero help. They considered our ‘glows’ healthy.

These days, women know better. They’re connected. They’ve seen people die from misshapen moles borne of sun overdose. There is no excuse.

And yet, amazingly, there are still Orange Moms out there (even in Canadian winters, when the sun is basically on vacation). They’re a species that refuses to become extinct, and that means they’re multiplying. Now, when I spot one, all I see is the burnt leather face of tanorexic Patricia Krentcil, the woman accused of taking her 5-year-old to a tanning booth.

A reality check, Orange Mom:

*The sun kills

*For young women, melanoma rates are rising

*Although it may seem otherwise when she rolls her eyes at everything you do, wear and say, your teen looks up to you

*Teens girls are tanning like mad for prom

*Canadian provinces are banning teens from tanning salons

*The Canadian Pediatric Society says 25% of teens have used a tanning salon

*Even Snooki is learning her lesson before she has kids

And finally,

*Botox doesn’t make leather look soft, just tight

So please, Mom, if you won’t believe the stats or the mirror, take it from someone who will tell you the truth: Orange is not pretty. It’s old.

Although some damage is done, do yourself a favor. This summer, rise up against the 2012 sun by protecting your skin against it. And while you’re at it, tell your teen her pale face is pretty. She may roll her eyes today, but someday, when she’s smoothing cream on her beautiful, soft, God-given cheeks, she’ll thank you. And so will her daughter.




About randi

Randi Chapnik Myers & Mara Shapiro don't get fazed by their teens. At least they try not to.


  1. great post! even as a person who tans and does not burn, I don’t get it.
    what is good looking about it? and what kind of crazy lesson is it teaching?

  2. thanks. to answer your first question, it’s that old fashioned mindset of a healthy glow. the sun is a murderer, people! the new lesson is #OrangeIsOld


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