Dear Tanning Bed User Meghan,
I know that there are a ton of tanning salons around you, even in walking distance from your home base on East Carolina’s campus of Brewster. I know that on the coldest days, this is a quick pick-me-up. I know that you hold a belief that your clothes look better on when you have a tan. I also know you hold a belief that you look skinnier when you’re tan. But is it worth it for the premature wrinkles? The age spots? The dryness your skin experiences?
Is it worth getting semi-annual skin checks from one of the top dermatologists in North Carolina because your mom was diagnosed with melanoma and basil cell carcinoma? Is it worth having to undergo surgery at 30 to determine if you yourself have either of those skin concerns? Is it worth it to worry if you’ll ever have a normal skin exam again? And is it worth it to have friends who think you’re overreacting when you let them know that you are having surgery because of the irregularities you’ve found and been worrying about for years have changed with all signs pointing to melanoma?
11 years later, I will tell you the answer is not no, but hell no. I wish I had known when I was in my teens and early twenties that I was unwilling to cut my life short because of decisions I made for vain reasons. I wish I had been like my friend Andrea, who didn’t tan in the tanning bed like the rest of us did before Prom in high school. I wish I had been like my friend Beth, who religiously wore sunscreen all day every day and swore off the tanning bed. I wish I had just thought for once about something further ahead than the Christmas party I was attending or Spring Break on Oak Island with friends or even just a way to get over a bad day I was having. These decisions seem incredibly silly and selfish to me now.
So, do us all a favor and instead of walking to the tanning salon for a pick-me-up, head to Wright Plaza to do some people watching in the sunshine. Just remember to wear sunscreen.
P.S. Don’t forget to enter the Target gift card giveaway here.