Magazines have Photoshop to give every body "perfect" contours. Television's secret weapon? Spray tanning. The Wall Street Journal visited the sets of shows like Dancing With The Stars and American Idol and found some, um, local color.
Reporter Amy Chozick watches as the makeup artist from Dancing With The Stars does her magic with a spraygun:
Six-pack abs, defined cheekbones and sculpted arms appeared almost instantly. Each 10-week season, the cast goes through more than six gallons of spray-tan liquid, or juice as it is known in the industry.
"You go in feeling fat and frumpy, and you come out feeling skinny and hot," said 20-year-old dancer Chelsie Hightower as she took a break from practicing the hustle to get her weekly tan.
This is actually a gender-neutral experience, at least on these shows. Even former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay agreed to have his face bronzed (the Journal impishly colored in the face of his dot matrix portrait), and though so far his body hasn't been touched, it's not off the table for the finale:
He said he has an unwritten deal with ABC that costumes not show his "beautiful body."
"They said if I wanted to open my shirt for the finale, they could paint a six pack on me," Mr. DeLay said.
The allure of tanned skin has come a long way — from being associated with working outdoors, to being a status symbol suggesting the means and leisure time to loll on a beach somewhere, to an often-implausible shortcut achieved in a booth at a strip mall near you. The strangest thing about the obsession is not that it aligns with making bodies look more sculpted — it's how racial politics are always rendered invisible in this context.
Or at least most of the time:
On "Dancing With the Stars," in season six in 2008, Miami Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor, who is African-American, had to get a spray tan because his Polish dance partner, Edyta Sliwinska, had over-tanned and was darker than Mr. Taylor, says Mr. Green, the producer. A spokesman for Mr. Taylor says his client didn't get spray-tanned.
Judging from the photo below, this is story is not so hard to believe.