Baylor Researcher Seeks to Understand the Drive for the Perfect Tan

Jul 21, 2023

2 min

Jay Yoo, Ph.D.

Despite being one of the most preventable cancers, the desirability of tanning is often stronger than the dangers of harmful UV exposure.


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With summer on the horizon, the quest for the perfect tan has begun. However, there is no such thing as a healthy tan. Despite being one of the most preventable cancers, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with more than 5 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.


Baylor University researcher Jay Yoo, Ph.D., associate professor of apparel merchandising in Baylor’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, found that the social and cultural influences on the desirability of tanning – which has been associated with good health and an active lifestyle since the 1920s – is often stronger than the dangers of harmful UV exposure.


“The appeal of a tan is so strong in U.S. culture, it may be difficult for some people to stop or even reduce the amount of tanning,” Yoo said.


In his 2019 study, “Identifying factors that influence individuals’ intentions to quit body tanning: A sociocultural perspective,”, published in the international journal Social Behavior and Personality, Yoo identified what motivates people to seek the “perfect” tan.


Yoo surveyed 385 college students to understand how society effects their tanning behaviors and intention to quit tanning. His research found that the greatest influence on reducing risky tanning behavior was the perceived attractiveness from tanning, whereas skin-aging concerns positively influence their intention to quit tanning.


FINDINGS


Yoo’s findings provide important implications for skin cancer prevention campaigns. Instead of promoting the message of body tanning as an unhealthy behavior, focusing instead on untanned healthy bodies as a positive image can serve as an effective approach to decreasing skin cancer incidence. Using messages that accentuate a healthy body without tanned skin should be promoted to boost a positive body image and to reduce the likelihood of engaging in risky tanning behaviors.


ACTIONS


  • To protect yourself and look great, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends:
  • Avoid tanning entirely: It’s the best way to safeguard against unhealthy, unsightly skin damage.
  • Fake, don’t bake: If you want a golden glow, consider sunless tanning products. There are many options, but remember, when in the sun, you still need sun protection.
  • Tone, don’t tan: Get radiant skin through exercise. Working out feels good and boosts your mood.
  • Hydrate and eat great: Drink lots of water and choose whole, unprocessed foods. You don’t need to tan to look slim and your skin will thank you.
Connect with:
Jay Yoo, Ph.D.

Jay Yoo, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Apparel Merchandising

Fashion merchandising and apparel expert specializing in appearance-related behaviors and individual social well-being.

Green ConsumptionBody-Tanning BehaviorsApparel and Consumer BehaviorFashion MerchandisingAppearance-Related Behaviors

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Among their findings: Nearly three-fourths of the informal caregivers experience mild or severe work interruption. More than half of those who serve as caregivers 10 or more hours weekly reported severe interruption of work. More than 40 percent of caregivers reported being involved in caregiving 10 or more hours weekly; most care-providing (60 percent) took place within the household or less than 30 minutes away. While caring for one family member was most common (68 percent), a sizeable number oversaw two or three. Most (70 percent) assisted individuals with chronic health conditions; 80 percent cared for people with physical limitations. Caregivers with several work interruptions were especially likely to care for those with mental illness or cognitive impairment. “We know that informal caregiving is becoming more common and more complicated due to the multiple health conditions of care recipients and the all-too-familiar work-family conflict,” Andersson said. “First, we need to do more research not just on individual caregivers but on caregiving networks,” he said. “Because informal caregiving can be so difficult and time-consuming, it’s usually too much to ask of one person. It’s not uncommon for multiple family members to get involved. “Second, we need to get employers more involved in the reality of this pressing situation. This study examined the unmet needs of caregivers in a large workplace where these supports are, in theory, available to everyone. Yet, caregivers weren’t taking advantage — even when they thought they should be.” To combat that, “supervisors should see their power for what it is: they shape culture more than they realize,” Andersson said. “Work teams should be structured so that absences can be taken in stride when family duties are pressing. This places a burden on supervisors to model how long-term success involves, first and foremost, taking care of yourself and your family.” Employee training should involve clarity and communication about available supports and how to use them. “Using them should not be a source of guilt,” Andersson said. “And it definitely does not mean an employee is not valuable or productive.” Previous research has found that workers who care for the elderly have more stress, decreased health, more work-family conflict, greater financial burdens, strained relations with co-workers and diminished self-esteem. Additional duties may lead to lost productivity as well as missed training opportunities or diminished job skills. All those issues are concerns for employers wanting to retain and invest in employees. *The study was supported by the TIAA-CREF Institute. The University of Iowa, Iowa Center on Aging and Iowa Social Science Research Center provided additional support. Program on Aging seminar participants at Yale School of Medicine provided feedback. Co-researchers were Mark H. Walker, Ph.D., Louisiana State University; and Brian P. Kaskie, Ph.D., The University of Iowa College of Public Health.*

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