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'Tan Mom' Isn’t the Only One Who Deserves Scrutiny

We have epidemics running rampant in our society that are doing far more damage to our children than tanning. So where’s the outrage there?

Patricia Krencil, the “Tan Mom," has been in the news a lot in the last month or so. Everything from her fitness as a parent to her sanity has been called into question because of the way she looks and her compulsive tanning. And now  she’s been brought up on charges of second-degree child endangerment to boot.

I think it’s appalling that this woman has been badgered and bullied openly in the media simply because she looks different and has a compulsion about her appearance. But that’s where bullying always starts, with people who are different — gay, geek, goth, etc. It’s bullying pure and simple. Some would argue that it’s about this woman’s health and her child’s well-being, and that I would label as hypocrisy.

Dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu wrote a piece for HLNTV asking people not to make fun of the “Tan Mom.” Dr. Wu said, “It’s easy to make fun of 'Tan Mom' because her behavior is as outrageous as the color of her skin. But why is it OK to make fun of tan people, when it’s not OK to ridicule people because of their weight? After all, tanning, like being overweight, is a health risk. Just as obesity is linked to heart disease and diabetes, indoor tanning has been linked to malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.”

I'd like to take Dr. Wu’s point a step further. For me, it’s certainly not about making fun of someone for the way they behave or look. But it’s definitely about the safety of their children and those around them. I firmly believe that as a society, we should step in and protect children when their parents are endangering them. But if we’re going to do it, let’s do it across the board, because anything less is blatant hypocrisy.

Let’s step in and protect children from parents who feed them a steady diet of junk and fast food. Child obesity is epidemic in this country. Parents are the cause of this. Children do not grocery shop for themselves, and they don’t drive themselves to an endless string of fast food restaurants because it’s more convenient. Children are being diagnosed with diseases like heart disease and diabetes once only found in adults. And we’re going to make a big deal out of one case of a mom possibly letting her child tan in a tanning booth?

Let’s step in and protect children from parents who smoke. I pulled into a parking lot the other day and watched as a mom and dad, who were both smoking cigarettes, got out of the car and then proceeded to pull their child out of its car seat. All the while continuing to smoke their cigarettes by the way. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Well, at least they had the child in a car seat, but that’s certainly not going to do anything to protect that child from the lung damage we know second-hand smoke causes.”  Where’s the outrage here? Why aren’t those parents being brought up on child endangerment charges?

Let’s step in and protect children from parents who drink and then drive the kids home from the restaurant or up to the mall. If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard “but I’ve only had a couple of beers!” We know for a fact that even a little alcohol consumption slows reaction time and impairs judgment and coordination, all of which are necessary to drive a car safely. Let’s not even get into the violence and chaos inflicted on children directly due to alcohol use in the home.

I’m OK with people making choices that end up damaging themselves. It’s their life and they can live it as they wish. But when their behaviors start putting others in harm's way, a line is crossed, especially when it involves children. The parents in these three groups are doing indisputable damage to their children, and there’s a lot more of them out there than there are moms who let their children go to tanning salons.

So where’s the outrage in these cases? Where are the charges being filed for child endangerment? Let’s be real. We’re going after Patricia Krencil not because we’re concerned for her or her daughter’s health and safety, we’re going after her for the same reasons we always go after people — because she looks different and behaves a bit quirky.

Let’s stop hiding behind hypocrisy and “good sounding arguments” and call it what it is. It’s not concern for their well being — it’s entertainment, it’s bullying and it’s very disappointing to see.

Darrell Lucas June 06, 2012 at 05:10 AM
I am assuming your talking about the 'tan lady'. However the article is not just about her but about other bad habits that a lot of us overlook everyday. Read before commenting.
John H June 06, 2012 at 12:59 PM
The joke is on anyone that believes there are no health benefits to indoor tanning machines. They produce enormous amounts of vitamin D, equal to about 100 glasses of milk. Dermatologists see indoor tanning as competitors and their phototherapy business has plummeted by 99% in 20 years. However, some still use "sunbeds" to treat various illnesses or they send clients to a tanning salon. http://www.who.int/uv/health/en/ The WHO states "Small amounts of UV are beneficial for people and essential in the production of vitamin D. UV radiation is also used to treat several diseases, including rickets, psoriasis, eczema and jaundice." Also from the WHO, "There is no doubt that a little sunlight is good for you." http://www.who.int/uv/faq/uvhealtfac/en/index1.html
Charis Kehler June 06, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I agree 100% on the bullying point in this article. Children learn this behavior from us and its time that we practiced what we preach. Just a point of clarity for the dermatologist in this article: Malignant melanoma has NOT been linked with over exposure to UV rays (burning). Skin cancer is a definite risk factor to over exposure but melanoma is a Vitamin D deficiency disease that is much more prevalent in people who are genetically predisposed to skin cancer and who are Vit D deficient than it is in anyone who habitually practices responsible UV exposure according to their skin type. In fact, in recent studies women who have had skin cancer and are in a higher risk category for malignant melanoma saw amazing reversals in the cell mutations on their skin and had a much lower risk of developing melanoma when they increased their Vit D levels than when they stayed out of all UV light and didn't supplement. In my humble opinion, using misinformation to scare people into certain "norms" of behavior is just another form of bullying and should also be stopped. Her comment should have read "After all, tanning, like being overweight, is a health risk. Just as obesity is linked to heart disease and diabetes, OVER EXPOSURE TO UV LIGHT has been linked to SKIN CANCER." to be factually accurate. (capitals to show editing only) Also, on a cosmetic note, can we all agree that the most inflammatory pics of this woman show her wearing black-face and NOT actually tanned?
Goran Olson June 06, 2012 at 05:34 PM
John, you are 110% right. And the sun-scare is invented by companies making billions in profit on the scare they created together with dermatologists and research-institutes providing falsified statistics. Here is the truth about the sun-scare ... http://www.tannersrights.com/the-creation-of-the-sun-scare/
Penny Hubbard June 06, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Thank You for being the voice of reason.

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