Nicola Roberts: The Truth About Tanning
Wow. This isn’t your average BBC3 documentary.
I was doing my normal ‘I probably should be doing something productive so why don’t I see what’s on iPlayer’ browse today and came across this programme. I’m not a huge Girls Aloud fan, nor am I a lover of fake tan, which is why it’s taken me until today to decide to watch this. But I’m glad I did. Nicola Roberts is my new favourite member of Girls Aloud. I say “new”. I’ve never had a favourite member of Girls Aloud. Therefore she is the only one I’ve ever liked. We even have something in common. And no, before you ask, it’s not our shared outstanding vocal talents. We are both pale. Very pale.
Back when the band first took off after all that reality TV malarkey, Nicola came under pressure to tan. And tan. And tan some more. Being thrown into the limelight at such a young age was always going to come with it’s negatives and for Nicola this was clearly something that she was greatly influenced by. Whilst she says in the programme that her main weakness was products from a bottle, the documentary sees how far things have developed in the short period of time since Nicola gave up the tanning.
No longer do people pop down to Superdrug for the latest fake tan in a bottle. Nowadays the most common choice is to use a tanning machine. With harmful UV rays being shot onto your skin it amazes me that people love these machines. Nicola looks at salons across the country and uncovers the complete lack of regulations regarding their usage. Sure, there are ‘guidelines’. But no laws. And without laws, there’s no guaranteeing that a 8 year old couldn’t walk in and become a victim of skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the main worry highlighter by Nicola. Altering the pigments in your skin can result in irregularities in the amount of melanoma in your skin, which can be fatal. Following Nicola as she supports a campaign to promote the issue, you see girls of all ages with irregular moles that often need further medical attention.
As well as looking at the problem on a nationwide scale, individual cases are looked at on a personal level. Tom, a young welsh guy declares that at the age of 18 he “came out of the closet and straight onto a sunbed”. Now in his mid-twenties, the damage he’s done to his skin could be irreversible. And he hasn’t stopped at sunbeds. He also has started using a new injection that’s illegal to buy in the country and has yet to been proven to be safe. This worries Nicola and, as such, he agrees to go clean of all forms of tanning for one month.
Megan, a 20 year old dancer from Liverpool, has used sunbeds regularly since the age of 16. Nicola takes her to visit a woman who was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma in the hope she’ll see why it’s so damaging. Later she visits a dermatologist who takes photos of her skin showing her the real damage the UV is doing beyond what is visible to the human eye.
After a month of being ‘clean’ from tanning, both Tom and Megan are treated to a makeover and photoshoot in the hope that they’ll see their true natural beauty. Whilst Megan seems to genuinely be converted to a life less orange, Tom seems less convinced.
Other individual cases prove to be even more traumatic. Nicola goes to see a woman in hospital as she has cancerous cells removed and a visit to a mother whose daughter died from skin cancer proves to be extremely sad. It’s not just the individual whose life can be affected. The desire to look ‘cool’ can lead to a family struggling to cope with the heartbreak of losing a loved one.
Having seen the devastation and destruction that tanning can do, I can be certain that I’ll never go on a tanning bed, or try out a ghastly tanning injection. I’d rather my skin be ghostly over ghastly anyday.