I’ll stick with pale, thanks

Published 8:24 pm Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Three months ago, one of my sorority sisters was holding a fundraiser in honor of her brother, who had passed away earlier this year.

As part of the evening, there was a raffle made possible by local businesses that had made various donations. Now, it should be pointed out that the items and names were picked at random, so, you could not put your name in one bucket specifically for one item. If your name was called, you got the next item on the list. In other words, you got what you got.

One of my friends walked away with a houseplant.

Another one headed home with a Subway gift card.

I even won a miniature scrapbooking kit.

Not a bad haul.

Then there was the final drawing, and, lo and behold, my name was called once more.

I was the proud owner of a free month of tanning from a salon in Deep Creek.

For those who have not met me face to face, let me explain that seemingly this “win” could not have gone to more deserving hands. While I like to describe myself as having alabaster skin, others choose words like, “pale,” “pasty,” or “sick-like.”

My friends — who, for the record, are all tanning-bed junkies — were thrilled that for at least one month I would look like I had some color, or at least look healthy.

But I had a small problem: Aren’t tanning beds bad for you?

“No, tanning is fine as long as you don’t spend all day there,” said one friend.

“Yeah, it actually is good for your skin,” said the second.

“Yeah, I read somewhere it’s better for your skin than being in the sun,” chimed the third.

I conceded and kept the gift certificate for a couple of weeks. But, I ended up throwing it away at the beginning of the summer. If for no other reason, I just didn’t see myself driving to Deep Creek to hang out in a tanning bed for 15 minutes.

And now, as it turns out, my friends are idiots.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer announced on Wednesday that tanning beds pose the same risk in developing cancer as cigarettes and asbestos. Research showed that skin cancer was increased by 75 percent in people who tan regularly before the age of 30. In fact, the agency recommended that tanning beds be named “the highest cancer risk category” and be labeled as “carcinogenic to humans.”

So, to all the fair-skinned people of the world, don’t drink the Kool-Aid: Tanning is bad for you. Embrace the pale.

And, hey, it’s not a total loss for me. I still have my scrapbook.