by Chason Gordon
- The Capitol Hill Times -
The worst part about living in a city virtually devoid of sunlight is that it’s hard to maintain a sexy tan. Under such tragic conditions, many teenagers are forced to acquire their toasty appearance beneath the clinical glow of a tanning bed. A new state bill, however, sponsored by Senator Curtis King, would prevent teens under 18 from tanning, and require tanning bed users to show a government-issued photo ID beforehand. Tanning facilities that allow minors to brown could face a $250 fine. If you let them use a tanning bed and sell them alcohol, God help you.
This is certainly a tough issue for teenagers. You have to weigh the possibility of cancer against always looking like you’ve just returned from spring break, like you come from a family who uses the word “summer” as a verb. Sure, tanning can increase your chances of developing skin cancer, but it can also increase your chances of looking good in a bikini. Those are good odds.
Banning teens from tanning before 18 may be a little harsh. If minors want alcohol or a gun, they just need to give me money and I’ll buy it for them, but there’s no way to illegally buy them a tan, much as I’d like to. We don’t let teens drive until 16, vote until 18, drink until 21, and run for president until they’re 35. Should tanning really be in that group? Who are they hurting, besides their skin cells?
That being said, tanning beds scare me. What happens in there, exactly? Is it like a waffle maker? Does the tanning bed flip you over to make sure both sides are evenly cooked? Will someone check on me to see when I’m done? There’s so much that could go wrong! Every other light could go out and make me look like I’m permanently behind bars. And what about my ample chest hair? Will it singe, or am I supposed to shave my chest like I did when I couldn’t find that missing Skittle?
Of course, the main reason that I would never get a tan is because I am totally out of shape, as evidenced by the amount of time that it takes me to tie my shoes. Going to a tanning salon before losing weight is like painting a wall before removing the asbestos. If I got a tan now, I’d look like a Honey Nut Cheerio.
This bill could have a litany of negative consequences. If teenagers aren’t able to get a tan from a legal, reliable tanning salon, they may turn to other, underground means of tanning, like lighting themselves on fire, using smelly tanning oils, or, God forbid, going to the beach.
How are we going to track their tanning behaviors outside of these regulated salons? Should we make them show their IDs at the beach, and ban them from purchasing lawn chairs and those weird tanning mirrors? And does this bill not unfairly punish the poor, whose parents won’t be able to buy them home tanning beds like other, wealthier kids? While you think about that, think about this: pancakes.
In addition to tanning beds, teenagers are also not allowed to get piercings or tattoos before they’re 18. I can understand these particular restrictions from a parent’s perspective. Having a child is like buying a car – you want to keep scratches off them for as long as possible. When the child/product gets a tattoo or piercing, they don’t feel as new as they once did. But, unlike a car, you can’t simply trade them in for a new one. You have to keep them parked on your front lawn for the entire neighborhood to see (this analogy has gone off the rails).
Nevertheless, the real reason SB 6065 (good name) is being pushed is because older people know that tans look way better on young people, like everything else does, and they resent that. A young tanned person looks like they’re ready to party. An old tanned person looks like they’re ready to be a handbag (you heard me, George Hamilton).
So listen up teenagers: Do you want to be safe or do you want to be cool? Exactly. Grab yourself a fake ID, and lay in that tanning bed along with a gun, some alcohol, a cigarette, a dirty magazine, and an illegally obtained voting form. Soon, a burning sensation will encompass your body. You know what that is? Freedom, I think.