What is Tanorexia?

Traditionally, having a tan wasn’t something anyone wanted. This is because having a tan indicated that a person worked outdoors, so people liked to be as pale as possible, to indicate that they lived in luxury and did not have to lift a finger. More recently, this has reversed. Having a tan is seen as a status symbol, as signposts to others that you have the time and the funds to have been off on holiday and lying in the sun to get that bronzed glow. Whilst having a Jersey Shore / TOWIE-esque tan is less fashionable these days (oh 2010, how I do NOT miss you!), it’s very common for people to still want to have a healthy, bronzed glow and it’s quite rare to see a celebrity that isn’t sporting a tan. Even I like to be tan; a few swipes with a tanning mitt and I feel much better. For some though, tanning can go too far. Have you ever seen someone with a blazing orange tan and thought “do they know what they look like”? Well, they might not think their tan is deep enough! Tanorexia, or tanning dependence is a term that describes a condition in which a person tans excessively to achieve a darker complexion because they perceive themselves as unacceptably pale. Usually affecting young women, tanorexia affects people who are obsessed with having and maintaining a very dark tan - and who never think they are dark enough. Extreme instances may be an indication of body dysmorphic disorder.


To help you to understand, anorexia sufferers commonly believe they are overweight, many times claiming they see themselves as "fat", when in reality, they are often, but not always, underweight and physically much thinner than an average person. In the same way, a someone who is tanorexic may think they have a much lighter, pale complexion when in fact the opposit is true. A great example of a tanorexic is this girl, who is often accused of trying to become a different RACE. She said: “Other girls say they can't live without having their nails done and I can't live without having a tan. Pure and simple, it makes me happy." Terrifyingly, this girl moved quickly on from using fake tan products, to sunbeds, to using an illegal tanning INJECTION which contains melanotan: a synthetic hormone which alters the melanin levels in the skin and allows people to go darker when using sunbeds. I’m not sure about you, but this sounds absolutely terrifying to me.

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