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The History of Sun Tanning

Feb 28, 2008
Believe it or not, sun tanning actually has a long and interesting history. In fact, the question of "to tan or not to tan" dates back to ancient Roman times and, of course, the debate still wages on today.

The history of tanning is seeped primarily in cultural preferences and social status. During ancient Roman times, for example, tans were considered to be unattractive. They were so undesirable that women actually went out of their way to make their skin look lighter. Since these cosmetics were lead-based, the women were actually harming their health quite severely by using the cosmetics.

Untanned skin continued to be fashionable during Shakespearean times. This was primarily because having lighter skin was considered to be a sign of higher status. Once again, however, women were using lead based cosmetics in order to achieve their lighter appearance. In fact, according to some historians, Elizabeth I died from using so much lead on her skin.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, fair skin that was freckle-free was considered to be attractive throughout Europe. This preference was primarily because people that performed manual labor had tans from working outdoors and on farms. Therefore, a person with light skin was considered to be a sign that a person was wealthier and able to hire someone else to do the work. For this reason, the royal court of France tended to powder their faces in order to look as white as they could.

During the 20th century, labor began to change and more of it started to take place indoors. Slowly, tan skin started to be seen more as a sign of leisure rather than labor, as those that were wealthy were able to spend more time outdoors and having fun. This perception was further solidified in the 1920s when Coco Chanel, who was a world famous fashion designer, came back from a trip to the French Riviera with a dark tan.

The trend launched by Coco Chanel continued into the 1960s. By this time, tan skin was consider to be a sign of wealth and of being of good health. This was primarily because acquiring a tan was associated with going on vacation and spending time enjoying recreational activities such as swimming and having backyard barbecues. It was at this time that people began to intentionally spend time in the sun in order to acquire a tan.

Some cultures still consider fair skin to be more desirable, such as Japan. Here, women go through great lengths to avoid tanning. In Africa and India, lighter skin is also more desirable because darker skin is associated with the lower class. So, it seems that what is beautiful in one country isn't necessarily the same in another!
About the Author
Baxter Owens is the developer of www.tantans.com, a premium Tanning Lotion website & vendor. TanTans.com offers premium tanning lotion at wholesale prices, including Designer Skin. Visit www.tantans.com today for all of your tanning needs!
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