OSU Study: Tanning for Self-Esteem

Those dang millennials, always doing things older generations don’t agree with…know what they’re doing now? Tanning. Yea, tanning outside in the sun like they don’t even care. I’m not just making it up either, a study recently came out of Oregon State University Cascades linking addictive tanning behavior and lack of sun-safety knowledge with low self-esteem and high levels of narcissism.

The study, which was published in the most interesting Journal of Consumer Affairs, aimed to evaluate knowledge of safety and address the dangers of tanning. It was spurred by astronomical increases in skin cancer since the 1970s, due in large part to the perception of tan skin as attractive.

Turns out that the subjects, 250 college students ages 18-23, collectively got an F on the 11 question safety and understanding test. 

Another questionnaire revealed that many of the subjects were tanning due to low self-esteem and/or narcissistic qualities. These qualities even led to addictive tanning behavior where subjects admitted to tanning even though they were fully aware of the dangers of doing so.

The most important bit of information gleaned from this study may be that millennials are not responding to the current warning labels on tanning products. This knowledge is helping researchers, and presumably the tanning industry as a whole, reevaluate how to tell millennials ‘Bad’ and have them both understand and care.

By Anthony Vitale