Researchers investigating indoor tanning habits found that of 227 female students surveyed, almost 40% had gone tanning for the first time with their mothers. The family that soaks up UV rays together stays together?
It's not strange for mothers and daughters to share regimens related to beauty and grooming. You shop with your mom, and possibly (directly or indirectly) learn about makeup, tweezing your eyebrows and shaving your legs from her. Mother-daughter manicures are quite common.
Tanning certainly falls in line with those other habits. The difference, of course, is that the World Health Organization considers indoor tanning a class one carcinogen — that's the same class as tobacco.
According to The New York Times,
College students whose mothers introduced them to indoor tanning were almost five times as likely as the others to be heavy tanners once they were in college. The heavy tanners used indoor tanning at least twice a month or more.
The ones who went with their mothers first also started around age 14, on average, two years earlier than the others, who started around age 16.
One of the researchers, Mary Kate Baker, says, "I don't know that any mother would intentionally lead her daughter into a harmful situation." Okay. But surely we can all agree that since children often mimic their parents' habits — from what they eat to smoking and drinking — parents leading children into unhealthy situations is a reality. Baker does admit that mothers can wordlessly transmit messages about the "perfect look" to daughters. And some people still believe that skin looks "healthier" when it's tan. Unlike cigarettes, tanning can seem somewhat "natural." But wouldn't we be much more horrified by a mother who smoked a pack of Marlboros with her 14-year-old than one who took her teenage daughter to a tanning salon?
The Tans That Bond [NY Times]