Monday, September 8, 2014

Not Music to My Ears

I admit it. I have a lot of anger toward the indoor tanning industry. My daughter Jaime was a tanning bed addict when she was in high school and college ... up until she was diagnosed with melanoma, a potentially fatal type of skin cancer, when she was 20. She fought this damn disease for her entire adult life but died when she was 29. A beautiful young life cut way too short, all because of tanning bed use. So I think my anger is justified.

To fan the flames of my anger, tanning beds are still very popular, particularly among teens and young adults. Vanity wins over sanity every time. Everyone knows how dangerous UV radiation is ... or at least everyone should know ... and yet the indoor tanning business is thriving while leaving behind a trail of young dead bodies.

The American Cancer Society and various skin cancer/melanoma foundations and medical organizations, the FDA, the CDC, the US Surgeon General (and me!) have all come out with warnings about the use of tanning beds ... but our pleas are basically ignored.

Why? Because our culture promotes being tan. Reality TV shows and magazines equate being tan with being sexy, and fitness centers promote the idea that a tan is healthy, when, in fact, neither is true. A tan is just the often deadly result of UV radiation damage.

A friend who understands my obsession with getting the message out about the dangers of tanning beds made me aware of this music video (UV Love) by Clinton Sparks. A sweet little romantic ballad it's NOT, so consider yourself warned if you watch it! From the title, you can probably guess that it is filmed in a tanning salon with young women roasting in tanning beds.

I can't understand the lyrics when I listen to the song, but I still don't understand them when I read them! (lyrics) But the lyrics don't even matter. It is the visual that gives the perception that tanning is a positive and acceptable activity.

Now I know I am out of touch with the current music scene (The Lettermen is still one of my favorite groups), and I admit that I have never heard of this guy. My hope is that this recording artist (term used very loosely) is not very popular because the message he is sending, that frying your skin in a tanning bed is sexy, is just flirting with death.

I'm not going to kid myself or you into thinking that kids listen to my preaching (or their parents') about staying out of tanning beds more than they listen to music videos like this one that are targeted to their age group and reach out and grab them.

Kids don't have to use any time or effort thinking about what this video is projecting ... that being tan makes you sexy and desirable and popular and fun. After all, these videos are made to make money; same goal as the indoor tanning industry, no matter the damage they do.

In contrast, my message tells them that tanning could kill them, but kids are certain that will not happen to them. They're too young to worry about that, right? That's what my Jaime thought too!

We must change the way our culture promotes tan bodies ... from the media to the fitness centers to the world of music. Some may claim this video was created with artistic license, but I claim it is irresponsible and driving kids and young adults to participate in an activity that is similar to playing Russian roulette with their lives. Reminds me of the cigarette ads with the sexy, manly Marlboro man!

When the US Surgeon General recently released a Call to Action against skin cancer, he was reaching out to everyone to do their part. Clint Sparks apparently thinks he is exempt. Some people, like the indoor tanning industry, will do anything for a buck ... even put young lives at risk. Why should freedom of artistic expression be acceptable when it is promoting dangerous activity?

Can you see why I'm so angry???

 Melanoma Mama (Jaime's mom, Donna) (Remember Jaime) (Jjem Creations) (Jjem Creations)