Ok, I know, “judging” (or having an opinion) is like the worst societal sin of the moment, but I did it tonight. And while I’m slightly ashamed, I can also admit that I’m still upset at what I saw, and yes, I’m still judging.
Tonight I went to the Dollar Store (no sin in that! That place is the bomb). But in the same strip mall as our local Dollar General (actually next door to it) there is a business called “I Am Tan”. Neon orange letters blazing brightly in the early-evening darkness – I. Am. Tan.
As I walked towards the Dollar store, I couldn’t help but peek over into this place and wonder “how the heck does a place like this stay in business??” I didn’t wonder for long. The place was hopping. I stood outside for a second looking in and my heart sank and my stomach churned.
These people are waiting in line for cancer. They are buying gift cards for radiation. They think they are setting a time for a bed, but they are setting appointments for chemo. And they don’t realize it.
Or maybe they do? I don’t know, everyone knows tanning can lead to cancer, right? So why? Why?? Why is there a line at the front desk? Why does the young girl behind the desk look so busy and frazzled? Why is the phone ringing? Why is there a line of people?
Why is there a mother there with her two young daughters?
The youngest girl caught my eye first as I saw her bouncing around the small foyer area. The older girl (who was maybe 8?) was on her tip-toes peeking over the counter where her mother with a “healthy glow” seemed to be scheduling another appointment. Why?
What message are we sending our daughters?
Beauty – at any cost.
“I need a base tan. Need a healthy glow. Tanning makes us feel and look better. I’m sooooo pale! Nothing bad will happen and if It does, it’s only skin cancer!” Look, I get it. I tanned too.
I tanned for vanity. And now look at me! I just had another melanoma removed from my chest and have had more pre-cancerous “severely atypical” spots removed than I can count. Each of which required stitches and has left its own permanent mark. My face will always be puffy on the right side where my muscle transplant was from having all of my lymph nodes on that side removed. I’m still working on regrowing the chunk of hair in the back of my head that I lost from radiation. I’ll always have bruising over top of the port (for chemo) in my chest that will always be there, plain to see to anyone. My left thigh will always look weird and puckery around the foot long scar from where they took the muscle for my face. I’ve got about 20 extra pounds on me at this point from steroids And treatments. And hey, I’m only talking vanity here, not the actually dangers of my cancer. You know, like the fact that I should be dead!
I tanned for vanity. And now my entire body is riddled with ugly scars – permanent reminders of my foolishness.
So I beg you, please, if you tan, stop. Let’s not send the message to our daughters that beauty can be bought and is worth any price, even their health and potentially their lives.
And to Brit, my beautiful daughter, I know you are only three right now and your biggest concern at this point is making sure your tea party is set up perfectly for your baby dolls. But Mommy needs you to catch this – you are beautiful. Right now. And you always will be. No matter what. Also, and listen carefully, you will age (Lord willing). There will be wrinkles at some point. Gray hairs. Staying fit won’t come so easily after a certain age. Dark circles all day every day. And you will be pale. And that is beautiful. I pray that you look deep inside yourself and see that your worth lies far deeper than your physical appearance. You are valuable, unique, smart, silly, fun, and absolutely perfect. Please don’t chase after a beauty that can be bought, a beauty that is superficial and will without any doubt fade. Invest in your beautiful qualities, the ones inside that make you who you are. I hope that you find fulfillment in our savior and not in trying to attain the lips of a teenager who has already had plastic surgery. There is so much fakeness already in the world, counter it with your amazing natural beauty, the beauty that goes far beyond physical.
Don’t ever believe the lies that you need “improved”. You’re perfect.