That not-so-healthy glow

The Southern Gazette - - EDITOR’S VIEWPOINT - Brodie Thomas, Ed­i­tor Port aux Basques Gulf News

It is now il­le­gal for any­one un­der the age of 19 to use a tan­ning bed in this prov­ince.

The leg­is­la­tion has re-awak­ened the de­bate about age of ma­jor­ity is­sues here in the prov­ince, as well as whether or not it is the prov­ince’s job to pro­tect peo­ple from them­selves.

Af­ter all, at 16 one can sign up for the mil­i­tary or drive a car. One can vote at 18, but can’t legally drink or buy smokes un­til 19. And yet a 17-year-old caught smok­ing can’t be charged.

If po­lice find that same 17-year-old in­tox­i­cated, there are laws to deal with that, as well as pos­si­ble charges for the per­son who bought him or her the booze.

This is all very in­con­sis­tent. Now we add to the mix tan­ning beds.

And again, it seems in­con­sis­tent. There’s noth­ing to stop a 17-year-old from tan­ning in the back­yard or at the beach, at least dur­ing the sum­mer months.

Th­ese laws could have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on re­tail­ers who own tan­ning beds. Many young women have gone to tan­ning beds in prepa­ra­tion for their prom. Those po­ten­tial cus­tomers are now gone.

That is why th­ese new reg­u­la­tions are prob­a­bly a good idea. Prom night in some com­mu­ni­ties has be­come a very ex­pen­sive and over-the-top rite of pas­sage for teens- es­pe­cially girls.

For guys, tuxe­does can be rented, but for girls there’s pres­sure to have that spe­cial dress so they can ex­pe­ri­ence that per­fect night.

The fact teens feel the need to have the per­fect tan for the per­fect night shows just how out of hand this has be­come. There are body im­age is­sues wrapped up in this de­bate on free­dom.

Why should a 16- or 17-year-old teen girl put her­self at risk of skin can­cer for the sake of some ideal body im­age?

Us­ing a tan­ning bed is more about look­ing a cer­tain way than ac­tu­ally achiev­ing bet­ter health.

Un­til this law was passed, prom prepa­ra­tion would prob­a­bly have been many teens’ first ex­pe­ri­ence with a tan­ning bed. With­out pres­sure from friends, many would prob­a­bly never give tan­ning beds a sec­ond thought.

Pass­ing this law has given im­pres­sion­able young women (and men) a bit more time to weigh the risks and ben­e­fits. Per­haps by 19, a teen will feel more se­cure in his or her body im­age.

They can still weigh the risks and choose to tan, but hope­fully they’ll re­al­ize how few peo­ple are hung up on tan lines or skin shade.

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