History and culture of tanning in the United States

Yvonne Hunt, Erik Augustson, Lila Rutten, Richard Moser, Amy Yaroch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

19 Scopus citations


This chapter traces changes in the perception of tanning and tanning behavior primarily within the United States (U.S.) from the later part of the nineteenth century to the early part of the twenty-first century. Originally seen as a hallmark of the working class/disadvantaged groups and associated with disease and ill health, societal perceptions of the tan evolved over time to reflect the opposite: wealth, health and beauty. These core beliefs regarding the value of tanning and ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure have proven extremely difficult to modify despite substantial efforts by the public health community to do so. In an attempt to understand why millions of Americans continue to engage in high-risk, intentional UV exposure such as use of indoor tanning facilities, the beliefs and behaviors related to tanning are considered within the context of the historical medical and societal factors, especially the role of fashion and advertising, which helped to shape current opinion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationShedding Light on Indoor Tanning
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9789400720480
ISBN (Print)9400720475, 9789400720473
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Advertising
  • History of tanning
  • Indoor tanning
  • Melanoma
  • Skin cancer
  • Sun bed
  • Sun exposure
  • Sun protection
  • Sun safety
  • Sunbathing
  • Sunburn
  • Sunlamp
  • Sunscreen
  • Tanning
  • Tanning bed
  • Ultraviolet radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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