I Am the Anti-Tan, Screwy Things in the Name of “Beauty,” and the Joy of Being Inciteful

I’m no beauty queen, but this is SCARY.

All this hoo-hah about some very deranged woman who is accused of dragging her five year old into a tanning bed is really disturbing.  Tanning was trendy back in the ’80’s too, and back then the bulbs used in the beds would literally fry the hide off a person.  I don’t think today’s tanning beds use such intense bulbs, but it certainly can’t be healthy to voluntarily expose oneself to all that direct heat and radiation. Oh, and anyone who would drag a five year old into a tanning bed to be toasted like an English muffin should not be allowed to have custody of a kid.  Ever.  Then again, in a perfect world only certain people would be capable of breeding.  The fact that the fittest aren’t always the ones spawning sort of casts some doubts on Darwin’s theory.  The gene pool doesn’t really seem to be chlorinating itself.

Many of the girls I knew in high school went to those tanning beds like religion- and now they look like the California Raisins.  I am certainly no beauty and I am certainly not free of skin damage- most of mine is actually through burns, (especially one bad incident from taking a radiator cap off a bit too soon…) but I have more than enough stretch marks, and a plethora of assorted scars from everything from a horrid case of chicken pox to bug bites, to abrasions, to falling into the coffee table, and even one interesting scar from a claw mark given by a very frightened dog.  However, I don’t tan.  When my super white skin is exposed to the sun, the results are freckles, splotches and burns.   I have never even attempted tanning in a tanning bed in my life, and at 43 I don’t plan on starting it now.  I have seen the leathery, wrinkly visages of the tanned “beauties” of the ’80’s as they look today- and I don’t want to go there.  Ever.

In the summer I can barely leave the house without slathering on the Factor 50, and this is in Ohio, where there isn’t a whole lot of direct sunlight, and it is not exactly a tropical paradise.  Even so, I’ve been known to get sunburn in the car.  It does get hot in the summer here, but it seems hotter than it really is, because the humidity is usually somewhere around 100% most of the time.   I have been told that 88° in Columbus OH in high summer seems hotter than Phoenix AZ at 110°, but never having been to Phoenix, I really don’t know if this is true, at least not from my own experience. 

Throughout history women have done some pretty screwy things in the name of beauty.  Ancient Roman women used lead as face powder.  Chinese women bound their feet so they couldn’t walk.  Even today we color our hair, (I freely fess up to that one) pierce our ears (yeah I did that too) and pierce various other places (not really game for that) and get tattoos (I might consider getting eyeliner tattooed on, but that’s about it.)  I don’t know of any culture that regards excessive body hair on a woman to be attractive, so removing superfluous hair is a Big Deal too.  It’s one of my major battles- to avoid looking like Sasquatch at all costs.  As fast as the hair grows on my body in unauthorized places, remaining acceptably hairless requires constant vigilance.

I know I shouldn’t enjoy controversy as much as I do.  While part of me wants to hide out in the ivory tower, another part of me can be derisive and critical.  There is a fine line dividing healthy, rational debate and presenting the facts, versus rabid activism, and for my own sense of rationality and sanity I have to be careful not to cross it. 

As far as things political go, the easiest way for me to describe where I stand is, “just to the right of Reagan.”  I am more conservative (at least politically) than most, and I have my reasons, but my reasons should never keep me from listening (sometimes the “other side” is right) or from being so focused in my disagreement that I can’t see little bits of good in what I perceive to be an ocean of bad. 

Conservatism doesn’t mean closed-mindedness, (nor does it mean racism or bigotry) but it does mean keeping a bit of a skeptical eye- on both sides.  I may not like someone’s philosophy on certain things- and I am outspoken enough to say so- but at the end of the day my goal is to stay rational- and to remember that while some ideologies may be detrimental or even what I consider to be evil- other people have their reasons for holding them that may not be rooted in evil but because they came from different background and perspective than mine.

It’s going to be a long next few months for me, trying to remain somewhat civil, keeping from alienating dear friends who don’t have the same political outlook I do, and trying not to get caught up on rhetoric, even when I can base it on facts. There are few things that can ignite that tiny little emotional stub I have in place of a heart, but love of country is one of them.  I ran the streets at 11 years old- delighted that even at 11 years old I could volunteer- with campaign information for President Reagan.  So forgive me if I get caught up.  I need to remind myself that in the grand scheme of things, it will be what it will be, and I can only do so much to bring about the world I would like to see.  Besides, beyond a bit of snarky satire here and there, what else am I good for?

Well, I can think of a few things.  I know more about things automotive than anyone other than a technician or an engineer would ever want to know.  I have a broad vocabulary. I can spell and define words such as catamite, hemorrhoidal inflammation, impunity, and gynecomastic.  Even better, I can use all these words and phrases in a sentence:

When Maurice, the gynecomastic catamite, came home from his boyfriend’s party, where he was taken advantage of by the others with impunity, he was suffering from severe hemorrhoidal inflammation.

Even if one doesn’t already know the definitions of these words, it’s possible to figure all but one of them out from the context clues.

2 thoughts on “I Am the Anti-Tan, Screwy Things in the Name of “Beauty,” and the Joy of Being Inciteful

  1. You know, I don’t think it speaks well of me that I love the word ‘catamite.’ Like the majority of my vocabulary, I learned the word from comic books (i.e., Superman: “Hey Bats, where’s that catamite you’re always hanging around with?”)

    I absolutely agree with you re: 88 degree Ohio vs. 110 degree Phoenix. Humidity can make a tremendous difference. I live in a fairly dry climate (despite being able to SEE the Pacific Ocean from my house), so that even when it gets hot, it’s not unbearable. A couple years ago we saw freak temperatures of 108 degrees, and while it was unpleasant (to say the least) I found it more bearable than being in Washington DC in 90 degree heat.

    Like you, my fishbelly skin does not do well under bright lights. Living where I do, I have to be careful.

    My last thought is on evil tanning mom. I’m not 100% convinced that she did it. I mean, I know she tans, look at that awful skin, but I’m thinking this is yet another “I know how to parent your child better than you do” witch hunt.

  2. I have to wonder if the media is being a bit harsh on Tanning Mom too, the more I think about it. I think someone should talk to the kid, (they tend to be more honest than adults at her age) and I would like to hear both sides of that story. Unfortunately most mothers tend to let our protective instincts go nuts when we hear stories like that, but there is a fine line between trying to ensure that children aren’t being abused and butting in where you don’t belong. I know full well I wasn’t a perfect mother, and there were likely times when I was too lenient, and times when I was way too harsh. But who’s responsible for defining “abuse?” How far is too far in disciplining your kids? Is it cruelty to demand that they do chores? Is it cruelty to make them wear clothes from the thrift store?

    I thought I was harsh on the POMC for making him wear thrift store jeans when he was going through a major growth spurt and I couldn’t afford to buy him $100 jeans every two weeks. Now that he’s a working man with a kid of his own he is beginning to understand (tee-hee! Nothing says vindication like grandchildren!) that money doesn’t just magically appear whenever you want stuff.

    Washington is probably one place where the humidity in high summer is worse than Columbus. I spent a week there in the summer of ’01- and made it a point to stay in the museums, etc. as much as possible. I love museums and historical sites, most of which are blessedly air-conditioned, but I will remember, should I go to Washington ever again, do NOT go in the middle of July.

    Oh, and maybe I did something right after all. My son is not a catamite, (yay!) and other than those nasty 7/8″ piercings and a smoking habit (grrrr) he’s not doing too bad for himself.

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