That not-so-healthy glow
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.