11 November 2006

Fried skin, roasted brains

Today I read a report about the controls (or, rather, lack thereof) on tanning beds (camas solares here) in Rosario. It's not really something that I pay much attention to, I mean the complete lack of regulations (and enforcement thereof!) in this or that aspect of private enterprise that may be horribly harmful to us. We grow up with it. But reading a few lines after the title I found this terrible confession...

I had already read a fellow blogger's assessment of the tanning fashion in Argentina. This last week, also, we were very slightly shaken by news of a woman who got trapped inside a sunbed and burnt her arm. In Buenos Aires, the law doesn't consider sunbed facilities a critical area, so inspections are not made on a regular basis. Moreover, sunbeds fall under "cosmetic treatment", not medical issues, according to ANMAT (the equivalent of the U.S. FDA).

All that aside, one would expect a large sunbed franchise to consider some security measures to avoid frying their customers or turning them into leather bags, but "the customer is always right" is not a philosophy widely spoused over here, except at McDonalds' and other international chains (where the result is truly creepy).

The reason of this post, however, is this article about sunbeds in Rosario that I found. Nothing really strange (nobody controls them, they're even worse than the sun, they cause cancer, etc.), until you get to the part where Gisela, 16, confesses that she's been doing the sunbed for two years now, without knowledge of her mother (who rightly fears its effects). Gisela told Rosario3 that she started when she was about to turn 15 (the traditional age-of-becoming for girls) because she wanted to be "splendid" for the night of the party. "Then I couldn't stop because I couldn't bear being pale for my girlfriends' parties", she explains.

I wonder what Gisela will do to keep splendid, and how she will react (being so incredibly vain), when she reaches 30 and her skin looks like 45; I have to wonder, also, whether her mother keeps any checks on how she spends her parents' money (since sunbed sessions are not cheap), and how on earth everybody around her turns a blind eye to the fact that her skin is darker than it should. I mean, do they believe she bathes in the sun for hours? And if she has time for that, why does she use the sunbed?

Moreover, why do people believe being well-tanned is compulsory? A number of guys don't like extremely pale features, but those girls who are naturally so are a minority in this country, which has been blessed with genetic diversity ranging from indigenous inhabitants to Mediterranean to Scandinavian types. Is it all due to competition, to peer pressure? I confess I don't take proper care of my skin when I'm out in the sun without cover (in January I returned from my vacations in Mendoza chocolate-brown). But paying to lie down in an ultraviolet sarcophagus for half an hour? What kind of twisted justifications do you need to make up to accept that?

No, I don't have a closing for this, except maybe cursing the memory of Coco Chanel for starting this madness...


  1. I am finding this chase of browness hilarious - when most portenos speak derogatorily of genuinely brown-skinned people they can't wait to be even browner then them - maybe that's a sign of their suffering from fried and therefore shrivelled up brains?

  2. Justito, justito:

    Aca tambien la cosa es asi. A lo que conoces sumale la falta de sol y la falta de melanina y nueva riqueza y te haras una idea.


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