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Cancer be damned, kids wanna tan
June 23, 2005 8:31 AM   Subscribe

Cancer be damned, kids wanna tan “I know I might get cancer, but sometimes you want to look good no matter what. I’d rather look good that worry about what could happen to me–looks are more important to me sometimes than my health.” (Maclean’s Magazine) Perhaps cancer is ‘natural selection’ at work trying to weed out all of societies undesirables from the gene pool. I for one think we could do without people this stupid.
posted by haasim (72 comments total)

 
And this suprises you somehow?
posted by fixedgear at 8:35 AM on June 23, 2005


Since very few people die from skin cancer and it doesn't seem to have much effect until someone is in their late 20's, I don't think it really influences the gene pool at all.

Sun tanning is one of the two things where if people paid attention to those who've gone before, they would never do it. Why look like a leather handbag when you're in your 30s?
posted by drezdn at 8:41 AM on June 23, 2005


Use people this stupid? Considering skin cancer happens well beyond prime reproductive years, they probably are at a slight evolutionary advantage (if you consider tanning more attractive, thus getting more ass).

We all engage in risky behavior that may or may not have long-term damages. Who cares about your health if you feel unwanted and unattractive? Live fast and die young, right?
posted by geoff. at 8:42 AM on June 23, 2005


"since all exposure to solar radiation -- whether from the sun or a tanning lamp -- damages the skin to some extent"

Well, there is that whole vitamin D thing.
posted by mischief at 8:42 AM on June 23, 2005


Not as stupid as smoking and less invasive to other people.
posted by dios at 8:42 AM on June 23, 2005



posted by ericb at 8:42 AM on June 23, 2005


Well, people are smoking too.
posted by McSly at 8:43 AM on June 23, 2005


How is this any different from other unhealthful uneccesary activities like surgery, or diet medication (weight loss, supplements.) If it feels good, do it - consequences be damned.

Amusingly, recent studies show that the benefit from basking in the sun outweigh the cancer risks.
posted by dsquid at 8:45 AM on June 23, 2005


Teenagers aren't risk educable.
posted by orange swan at 8:46 AM on June 23, 2005


Sun is the new tobacco
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical (half) naked, dragging themselves through the smoking section in front of their office buildings at breaktime looking for a solar fix,
leather-skinned hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of daylight,...
posted by hal9k at 8:48 AM on June 23, 2005


Perhaps cancer is ‘natural selection’ at work trying to weed out all of societies undesirables from the gene pool. I for one think we could do without people this stupid.

I for one think we could do without comments that stupid and offensive. (And I'm not talking about your misspelling of "society's")
posted by pardonyou? at 8:53 AM on June 23, 2005


(No, I'm not a poet. But I DID stay in Allen Ginsburg's favorite room at Hotel Boheme in SF)
posted by hal9k at 8:53 AM on June 23, 2005


Stupid, yes. But offensive? No.
posted by mischief at 8:56 AM on June 23, 2005


In fact it's the opposite scenario. Tanning causes one to be more desirable to a mate, and thus people who tan will reproduce more often and with more partners then those who do not tan.
posted by chaz at 9:02 AM on June 23, 2005




since only stupid people procreate, the gene pool isn't about to get cleaned up anytime soon.
posted by 3.2.3 at 9:08 AM on June 23, 2005


tanning, smoking, drinking, doping, screwing, fast driving, whatever, anyone who's not utterly boring has some pleasure they're willing to exchange for risking a few less years on the planet. We have an inalienable right (and attraction) to self-destruction. Get over it.
posted by jonmc at 9:13 AM on June 23, 2005


Stupid, yes. But offensive? No.

You don't see how hypothesizing (even if only jokingly) that cancer is like a "Darwin Award" could be viewed as offensive? How about to the parents of an infant with leukemia?
posted by pardonyou? at 9:14 AM on June 23, 2005


Being a teenager is all about risk though. Warning a teenager about the risks of tanning is by and large useless considering the other risky behaviours a teenager takes part in. The hormones kick into overdrive and anything that has a chance of getting you more ass will win out over anything that'll help you live to the sucky part of life.
posted by substrate at 9:17 AM on June 23, 2005


recent studies show that the benefit from basking in the sun outweigh the cancer risks.

Not really, a little bit of sun is good for getting vitamin D, like 30 minutes a day at most.
posted by drezdn at 9:21 AM on June 23, 2005


This is a tremendous agrument in favor of miscegenation: when the white people mate with the black people, their children come out pre-tanned.
posted by Jart at 9:26 AM on June 23, 2005


Perhaps cancer is ‘natural selection’ at work trying to weed out all of societies undesirables from the gene pool.

I'm no stranger myself to a casual rash generalization, but i would have expected more argument against the idea that the close friends or relatives many of us have (or have had) dying slow, painful deaths are society's undesirables.
posted by troybob at 9:29 AM on June 23, 2005


Perhaps cancer is ‘natural selection’ at work trying to weed out all of societies undesirables from the gene pool.

I'm no stranger myself to a casual rash generalization, but i would have expected more argument against the idea that the close friends or relatives many of us have (or have had) dying slow, painful deaths are society's undesirables.
posted by troybob at 9:30 AM on June 23, 2005


Teenagers engage in risky behavior, Metafilter post contains obnoxious editorializing; film at 11.
posted by ChasFile at 9:30 AM on June 23, 2005


If it feels good, do it - consequences be damned.

There's at least 2 classes of consequences: natural (e.g. you will get cancer and die from a sufficient dose of radiation), and manmade (e.g. you will be buried under heavy stones if you make weird gestures in public.)

I of course advocate at least two things: medical research and tolerance.

since only stupid people procreate, the gene pool isn't about to get cleaned up anytime soon.

Nature abhors this sentiment. We have some real difficulty relating to our sexuality, as it actually is.
posted by nervousfritz at 9:32 AM on June 23, 2005


When I saw the cover of Maclean's this week, my first thought was that its decline to the level of Time magazine is now complete. Next week, stay tuned for summer diet tips!
posted by loquax at 9:34 AM on June 23, 2005


"How about to the parents of an infant with leukemia?"

Reaching a bit, aren't we? Your example is so frivolous, it's ludicrous.
posted by mischief at 9:38 AM on June 23, 2005


...and i would go as far as saying hopefully once this time...wtf? that cancer/death is not justifiable punishment for the stupid. i think part of the pleasure we get out of such stories is the relief that our own personal forms of stupidity have not thus far handed us the same fate.
posted by troybob at 9:46 AM on June 23, 2005


If you see somebody with a tan in Maine before June, it's because:

a. They're from away
b. They just got back from Florida
c. It's a fake bake

I don't see the attraction, but then it's been a while since I was in the target tanning demographic and my mate is as pale as they come, bordering on a blue glow.
posted by SteveInMaine at 9:50 AM on June 23, 2005


In Toronto, it's amuses me that asian women that grew up in Canada often have deep tans, but women that have immigrated more recently can be quite pale and can be seen walking around on a sunny day with open umbrellas.

Though I find it ironic that it seems more often than not women in movies and magazines tend to have pale, ghost-like skin. Lohan is quite pale now, and othere actresses like Kidman, Dunst, and Paltrow are always quite pale.
posted by bobo123 at 9:54 AM on June 23, 2005


Most everything in moderation.... Sheesh it seems that such a basic truism is so hard to impart to people. We tend to be a culture of excess, which is, imo, the true reason kids (and adults) act stupid. We consume and act excessively for a number of reasons. But, for kids add to the mix impressionability, the high-emotion, act fast, invincibility belief tendencies... and tra la high-risk behavior. We also tend to prize youthfulness so it does not surprise me that many older people mimic youth attitude as well as looks.

Not enough sun = unhealthy, too much sun = unhealthy. This applies to everything; the trick is to find the balance.
posted by edgeways at 10:00 AM on June 23, 2005


"...but trust me on the sunscreen."

Not.
posted by soyjoy at 10:00 AM on June 23, 2005


So I was like, 'If all these celebrities are doing it, I mean, why can't I?'

For sale: 300,000 acres, just off the coast of Kansas. Che@p.
posted by gramschmidt at 10:03 AM on June 23, 2005


Who cares about your health if you feel unwanted and unattractive?

If you feel unwanted and unattractive due to the lack of a tan, then you have problems greater than a tan will cure.

Besides, I see few of these sun-worshipping lemmings, and I live in a college town. There are the small clusters of Barbi/Paris Hilton clones who walk around in their own private universe, orbiting from tanning salons to nail clinics to the Britney section at the local music store, but there aren't very many of them, and they are generally regarded with derision by most of their age group.
posted by Chasuk at 10:08 AM on June 23, 2005


Perhaps cancer is ‘natural selection’ at work trying to weed out all of societies undesirables from the gene pool.

Wow. Are you completly retarded? If it dosn't kill you before you have kids, then it's not 'natrual selection', and as others mentioned, looking better means access to better sexual partners, which means more attractive children, and so on. So from an evolutionary standpoint, it's a good idea.

A large increase in sexual desireability with a small decrease in health is a 'good' thing from an evolutionary standpoint.

---

Next you'll be telling us that it's stupid for women to have children because there's a slight risk of death.

Even something as stupid as having lots of unprotected sex can increase your share of the gene pool.
posted by delmoi at 10:12 AM on June 23, 2005


Maybe this should be in Ask Metafilter, but...

I was once told by a doctor (and another doctor told my mother the same) that there is some evidence that psoriasis sufferers are immune to most (all?) types of skin cancer. Does anyone know if this is true? I do know that the sun or sunlamps can help clear up psoriasis in some people.

Being fair-skinned, and having psoriasis, I want to balance out my sun usage.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:12 AM on June 23, 2005


Besides, I see few of these sun-worshipping lemmings, and I live in a college town. There are the small clusters of Barbi/Paris Hilton clones who walk around in their own private universe...

I saw a girl, dressed in pink, and carrying around a fucking fluffy dog like a fassion accesory the other day. In the middle of fucking Iowa. (yes, this is a collage town, but still).
posted by delmoi at 10:21 AM on June 23, 2005


*gasp*
posted by jonmc at 10:23 AM on June 23, 2005


Perhaps the stupidity of haasim's assertions are Metafilter's way of weeding out undesirables from FPPs?

Nasty hurtful comment, haasim.
posted by occhiblu at 10:43 AM on June 23, 2005


im not gonna die
im not gonna die
im not gonna die
im not gonna die
posted by Satapher at 10:56 AM on June 23, 2005


There's at least 2 classes of consequences: natural (e.g. you will get cancer and die from a sufficient dose of radiation), and manmade (e.g. you will be buried under heavy stones if you make weird gestures in public.)

Sunbathe/get cancer
Get Breast Implants/Suffer leakage and a host of nasty immunological side effects
Take Ephedra and die of a heart attack.

But hey, at least you'll die tanned, thin, and boobalicioius.
posted by dsquid at 11:00 AM on June 23, 2005


What is the actual increase in skin cancer from tanning? I'm curious because when I grew up letting your kids romp around exposed to the sun was a great idea. You were only a bad parent if they got burned. Then of course you were doused in Solarcaine (I don't think it was an actual anaesthetic so much as it burned out your nerves from the instant pain)
posted by substrate at 11:06 AM on June 23, 2005


I have a friend who specifically wears suntan lotion for vanity purposes - when I mentioned that recent finding that perhaps it doesn't reduce skin cancer, she said really the reason she was so adamant about using it was because she didn't want to end up looking like an old handbag, as others have mentioned...

but yeah, no surprise that kids don't really "get" that they're gonna get old and potentially suffer for choices they made, etc. When you're young, all that feels kinda abstract. This one's especially easy to laugh at because it's likely that many of us are not part of a community that highly values suntans. But a lot of us have probably engaged in behavior that carries risks just as serious (drink, smoke, drug, to start with) - we just think our reasons (feeling good as opposed to looking tan) are better.
posted by mdn at 11:07 AM on June 23, 2005


I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to life than being really, really good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is.
posted by grouse at 11:20 AM on June 23, 2005


I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to life than being really, really good looking.

Nope. Sorry.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:34 AM on June 23, 2005


Oh. Thanks.

*commits suicide*
posted by jonmc at 11:47 AM on June 23, 2005


The Aussies have direct experience with this whole ball of fire in the sky thing. More freakin' melanomas down there than you would want to shake a stick at. And plenty of 'em are dying of it.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:52 AM on June 23, 2005


Sunlight is good for psoriasis kickstart70. I don't know about the immunity thing but it sounds unlikely.

Want a tan without harmful doses of sunlight? Try the Barbie drug! Great side effects too!

And while we're at it, don't forget to whiten your teeth 'cause it's so damn unnatural like your pink poodle and fake boobies!
posted by nofundy at 11:58 AM on June 23, 2005


I've tried all those other things, grouse. I'd like to have a chance to find out what being good-looking is like.
posted by orange swan at 12:05 PM on June 23, 2005


And while we're at it, don't forget to whiten your teeth 'cause it's so damn unnatural like your pink poodle and fake boobies!

Who the hell can claim to actually be "natural" anymore? Anyone walking around butt-naked and unwashed leaving trails of turds as they go? I don't indulge in most grooming, hygeine and fashion, but that's because I'm lazy and I just don't care enough, not any moral imperative.
posted by jonmc at 12:06 PM on June 23, 2005


"Stupid, yes. But offensive? No."

so, wanting me to die to clean up the gene pool is merely stupid.. simply because I have cancer (which will kill me (personally) anyways within a few years) through no fault of my own (not genetic, not 'lifestyle choice': unknown cause but probably man-made carcinogens in the environment).

telling me I am "undesireable" and deserve to die, and as soon as possible so that I don't procreate.. is somehow not offensive? someone who doesn't know me at all calling me worthless and wanting me dead.. being offended is a rather reasonable reaction.

post again and tell me I'm undesireable. me personally. put a face on your generalizations.. tell me I deserve to die. tell me saying so is merely stupid.
posted by ulami at 12:18 PM on June 23, 2005


I apologize for my the broadness of my Darwinism comment, it was nasty, insensitive, thoughtless, juvenile and a deplorable display of poor judgement.
posted by haasim at 12:25 PM on June 23, 2005


Fine, be offended then.
posted by mischief at 12:41 PM on June 23, 2005


Its weird... it used to be looked down upon to be tan(ned). In older societies, if you were tanned, that meant you were a lowly worker, and not a person of great power, beauty and wealth. Now, in our modern society, everyone wants a tan because they think it makes them look more attractive, and perhaps more powerful? Interesting how things change like that. :) Oh not to mention the whole cancer bit. Eesh.
posted by mrzer0 at 12:59 PM on June 23, 2005


thanks, haasim. I didn't think you intended it to come across the way you wrote it, but I thought it should be pointed out.

Best of luck to you, ulami. Please ignore mischief.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:59 PM on June 23, 2005


Anyone walking around butt-naked and unwashed leaving trails of turds as they go? I don't indulge in most grooming, hygeine and fashion, but that's because I'm lazy and I just don't care enough

I'm trying to erase a horrible image of jonmc walking around naked and unbathed, dropping trails of turds, pounding his pud while eating Cheetos and singing Free Bird off key. :-{

I suppose there are acceptable unnatural things that enhance appearance. Like dentures and cosmetic surgery for accident or cancer victims. And, no, bathing and grooming is not unnatural, nor is pooping in a proper spot.
posted by nofundy at 1:12 PM on June 23, 2005


chaz writes "In fact it's the opposite scenario. Tanning causes one to be more desirable to a mate, and thus people who tan will reproduce more often and with more partners then those who do not tan."

Today anyways. At least we're not ingesting arsenic to give us that oh so desirable pale complexion.
posted by Mitheral at 1:46 PM on June 23, 2005


For me it's the opposite. I'm very Paula Begoun about it...I don't wear any makeup or do anything beauty-related except for my obsessive daily effective sunscreen regimen. Because yeah. Sun damage overtime just ain't pretty, dangerous or no. Yick.

And even immediate effects...quite frankly I think if you're geared towards being pale you look best more as yourself than trying to prove you're some super tan entity. Every spring in college a fair amount of my normally-pale peers would sport tanning bed tans/burns. So overdone and gross.

I tan despite all of my efforts not to, as I'm the strain of Asian with a ton of beta carotene in the skin and a propensity to tan even in winter (?!). The grass is always greener or something.
posted by ifjuly at 3:16 PM on June 23, 2005


This is yet another glaring symbol of a failing educational system.The fact that any child,and regardless of age this is the comment of a child,would express this kind of viewpoint and the accompanying apparent lack of awareness and knowledge of the subject,risks,facts and so forth,simply points out how uninformed the youth of the world is.When this person's skin erupts with sores and they find themselves with cancer popping up throughout their body I wonder if their looks will be the primary concern.At least they will look good at the funeral.
posted by spdavid at 4:26 PM on June 23, 2005


Oh, cry me a fucking river. Life is a sexually transmitted terminal disease. Just about everything enjoyable is bad for you and most people know it, but we. just. don't. care.

I will now adjourn to my steak, beer and cigarrettes. You can continue eating right, exercising and living healthy. And dying anyway. But I'll go with a smile on my face.
posted by jonmc at 4:38 PM on June 23, 2005


I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints

The sinners are just more fun

Darlin only the good die young

posted by dflemingdotorg at 5:32 PM on June 23, 2005


Live fast and die young,

...leave a well-tanned corpse?

Regarding darwinism and dying young:
Diseases that kick in after prime reproductive age can be disadvantageous to reproduction too.

If person x reproduces, then dies while her kids are 3 and 7 years old her offspring will have a lower likelihood of attaining the health and social position necessary for finding plenty of good mating partners.

Reproduction doesn't, in a sense, end at birth.

Regarding cancer as natural selection, and wether the post is offensive:
This depends on the definition of "undesirable". If "undesirable" is anyone engaging in irresponsible, dangerous behaviour, then I can't see how this is offensive.
Some seem to interpret that this as if the poster thinks all people with cancer are undesirable, something I can only attribute to deliberate obtuseness.
If "undesirable" are genes with a high predisposition to cancer, then that's exactly what darwinian evolution is all about - detrimental genes get weeded out. I can't see that as being offensive either.
posted by spazzm at 5:34 PM on June 23, 2005


I will now adjourn to my steak, beer and cigarrettes. You can continue eating right, exercising and living healthy. And dying anyway. But I'll go with a smile on my face.

I'm having a single glass of wine, salmon pasta, and maybe a toke later today. That sounds pretty damn healthy to me, and I'll be smiling, too.

Living healthy is not, surprise!, a miserable thing.

In fact, living unhealthy is just plain nasty. For various reasons, we haven't had fruit in the house this past week. It was horrible. And junk food? Oh, god, it's so disgustingly gross that I can't even begin to explain.

It all boils down to what you get used to. There was an AskMe thread the other day about getting used to eating veggies and fruit. I couldn't even conceive of such a wretched existence. No fruit? No veggies? It sounds like a living hell to me.

So you just go ahead and assure yourself that you're happier eating and living an unhealthy lifestyle. Meanwhile, I'm gonna continue doing what I can to ensure that I'm as capable of enjoying life at 80 as I am at 40.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:36 PM on June 23, 2005


Living healthy is not, surprise!, a miserable thing.

For you, no, but for me, it would be. I say vive la differance on that score, but too much of this thread is filled with people congratulating themselves on avoiding "unhealthy" things. It's uncomfortably close to church ladies congratulating themselves on their virtue, so I feel compelled to puncture their precious bubbles of self-satisfaction.

Now, don't bogart that joint, my freind....
posted by jonmc at 7:51 PM on June 23, 2005


[passes to the left]
posted by five fresh fish at 8:26 PM on June 23, 2005


In older societies, if you were tanned, that meant you were a lowly worker

This is what makes me think that Paris Hilton's outrageous tan is intentional -- because nothing natural looking speaks of money. How would the tanned rich tell themselves from the tanned poor?

But the anti-health propaganda is getting old, too. "Oh, don't you just hate those people who are like, fitness junkies? You just know they don't ENJOY life." Sorry, girls, they do. And they have better sex, too.
posted by dreamsign at 11:13 PM on June 23, 2005


>>In Toronto, it's amuses me that asian women that grew up in Canada often have deep tans, but women that have immigrated more recently can be quite pale and can be seen walking around on a sunny day with open umbrellas.

>In older societies, if you were tanned, that meant you were a lowly worker

In Korea at least, this is mostly the crux of it. A tan means you're a farmer or labourer-in-the-sun of some kind. Thus you're poor. Thus you're worms-belly low, basically, traditionally (and important, confucianally). Even if you are poor, you make the attempt to be as pale as possible, and thus at least look like a rich, indoor, affluent type, waited on by a harem of foreign castratos.

Koreans even note natural variations in skin tone here between their countrymen, and often look down their nose at folks who sport a slightly darker hue, overtly or otherwise. Many jokes with a serious core are made.

Much of the attitude is fed by advertising, of course, and emerges from memories of recent poverty, personally or nationally, and there is more than a touch of the self-loathing other-lovehating moebius strip in there ('mi-guk' the word for American, can be literally translated as 'beautiful person'). It's all quite fascinating.

It amused me enormously when Xeni from BoingBoing got hold of some pictures of the huge sun visors that Korean (and other Asian women) wear all the damn time, back during the SARS outbreak (and the inexplicable fetishizing of it by some), and theorized that they were some kind of disease-avoidance strategy. Uh, no.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:45 PM on June 23, 2005


From what I have read, the skin tone has usually indicated class differences in most societies. Those that had to toil in the sun where darker their offspring tended to also toil in the sun, and those that governed/held power got to sit in the shade likewise their offspring. It is interesting how that translates into recent and modern culture. I have heard blacks use pretty strong negative terms to denote those who are very dark/black in color, not to mention the whole complex "race" debates. We seem to have some historical baggage to sort out in this fashion. Perhaps... the whole wealthy ultra tan thing is a positive thing in the long run (notwithstanding the individual health concerns), indicating a swing away from skin tone = specific social static. just a thought
posted by edgeways at 12:44 AM on June 24, 2005


Same thing in Pakistan and India, all the women want to be as light-skinned as possible. But personally, I think that's got more to do with wanting to look like the British.
posted by exhilaration at 9:28 AM on June 24, 2005


I think that's got more to do with wanting to look like the British.

There's a joke about the next logical step having something to do with teeth, but I won't go there. Really.
posted by SteveInMaine at 12:10 PM on June 24, 2005


Amusingly, recent studies show that the benefit from basking in the sun outweigh the cancer risks. - dsquid

Amusingly, you obviously didn't read the linked article under discussion.
Recent research, however, suggests there's a flip side. It urges people to get at least 15 minutes of unprotected exposure to sun a couple of times a week so the body can make enough vitamin D, which is said to combat cancers including breast, colon, ovarian and prostate. But a single study or even a few are rarely sufficient for making definitive declarations. It takes a substantive body of research, the kind that already exists and so clearly links sun exposure to skin cancer, says Langley. "Unfortunately, you've got compelling scientific evidence that sun can generate skin cancers, and then you have all this soft science that has not been demonstrated in careful clinical studies. It's potentially misleading and can cause confusion about what people should do in the sun."

Meanwhile, the fine print in studies about the benefits of sunlight indicate exposure should be to only 25 per cent of your body surface area, roughly meaning your hands, arms and face. "Most people get that going to and from their car, or to get groceries in the summertime," says Dr. Jason Rivers, a professor of dermatology at the University of British Columbia and former national director of the sun awareness program for the Canadian Dermatology Association. "That's much different from somebody lying on the beach for three to four hours with a bikini on."
(Emphasis mine).
posted by raedyn at 1:02 PM on June 24, 2005


What about when a person (such as myself) is going to a sun-drenched vacation destination? Obviously one should apply sunscreen liberally and repeatedly while on the holiday. But with enough sun exposure, you get somewhat of a tan even through sunscreen. If you aren't diligent enough it can become a burn.

Is it actually helpful for me to get a little bit of a fakebake tan before I go to help me prevent burning, or is that a bunch of bunk fed to us by the tanning industry? Is a one-time burn worse than a few weeks tanning? Or will the tanning actually be more exposure to the harmful rays? Has anyone actually studied this, or is it all rumours and hearsay?
posted by raedyn at 1:15 PM on June 24, 2005


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