Tanorexia is when an individual feels a need to tan because they are disgusted by their pale complexion. This is different than a simple addiction to tanning because that is done habitually. Much like anorexia is when someone can never be thin enough in their own eye, tanorexia is when their skin cannot be dark enough for them to feel beautiful. Tanorexia can be very dangerous because it can involve high amounts of time exposed to harmful ultra-violet rays (UV).
When not to worry:
If it’s the middle of winter and you’ve lost your base tan and you go for a while you are not a tanorexic. If you go tanning before a vacation to get a nice base going to reduce the amount your skin will burn, you are also not a tanorexic. If you have a level desired for your skin tone that’s achievable and modest then you simply want a beautiful glow. When you find yourself saying one more shade, one more time, just five more minutes, then you’re beginning to have a problem.
When to worry:
If you miss a tanning session and experience intense anxiety or depression you should give yourself a heavy dose of reality. If you find yourself unhappy unless you’re the darkest out of all your friends, even the naturally dark skinned, then you have an unhealthy addiction. If you can’t look in the mirror and be happy with your appearance unless your skin tone gets a few shades darker, then you really need to consult a physician.
• Depression and anxiety about one’s appearance
• Desperation to tan more than 5 times a week
• Hostile or jealous feelings to those with darker skin tones
• Lying about the amount you tan to friends and family who are concerned
• Unsatisfied with skin tone no matter how dark your skin becomes
• Excessive application of sunless tanner
If you are a tanorexic or believe a friend or family member may be one there are a number of options. In early stages you can scare the individual with the truth. Tanning prematurely ages the skin, makes it look leathery and tough, and appears unnatural after a certain shade. If beauty is the desired outcome, tanning will most likely backfire; If not now, as you get older. Tanning can also cause skin cancer. Direct exposure to UV rays increases your likelihoods tremendously.
If simple intervention does not cure the problem then a physician or psychiatrist needs to be consulted. The treatment would be similar to that of an anorexic. You must learn to be comfortable with your body and who you are. I’m an Irish red head with blue eyes, I’m as fair as fair can get. I like to consider myself a porcelain goddess (inside joke). Look online or in magazines at the women, they’re not all deep shades of tan. If you look up tanorexia on Google you will find numerous pictures of scary tanning catastrophes. To avoid premature aging, leathery skin, possible skin cancer, and an orange complexion, simply look in the mirror and you’ll see that you already are beautiful without changing a thing.
Information found on Wikipedia.org