The Problem With Australia's Tanning Industry

Posted on Instagram here.
Why tanning is racist

Firstly, the industry as a whole is a problem. You cannot take the parts you like and leave the parts you hate. So, what’s the problem? Let’s break it down.

  1. The tanning industry promotes darker skin on white women as beautiful. By fetishizing darker skin in this way it further dehumanizes people of colour and reduces our lived experience. Tanning brands are actually using black and brown skin to promote ideal results (skin appropriation). One woman compared her tan to “12 mins to Chris Brown.”

  2. But is it just fake tans? No. The desire to look a certain dark shade is the problem. Natural tanning as a result of outdoor activity, based on government and health guidelines, is not what we are referring to here. White Australian influencers are promoting “ultra dark tans”, and even refer to slipping into blackness to appear more beautiful.

  3. While white tanned women are being applauded for their “bronzed / glow / dark” tans, black and brown women with the SAME skin are being bullied and discriminated against. Where are the accolades for our natural skin? Suddenly society reaffirms white women they are the beauty standard (and we know this is normalized in the beauty industry).

  4. The tanning industry is the poster child for exclusion. Brands that claim to help with “glow” are disguising their tanning products as healthy. Body shapes, racial diversity and trans representation is virtually non-existent. What is present is skinny white cisgender bodies.

  5. So what happens to the white women who refuse to tan? Paler white women have been shamed into thinking they need chemicals to look healthier and more attractive. By promoting tanned skin as the beauty standard, it thereby pressures pale skin girls into thinking they need to either fake tan or sit out in sun and risk cancer.

First Post from 2020: Let’s talk tanning & there’s a lot to unpack here! Australia has some of the top tanning brands in the world and it is a harmful, racist industry to ALL women.

Just as the beauty industry has promoted to women of colour the belief that white is more beautiful, it has also profited from making white women believe their natural skin is not good enough. In order to look “attractive”, they have to drench their bodies with chemicals or sit in the sun for hours risking cancer. But it seems tanning isn’t the bigger issue here. The desire to look “exotic” (African or Arab as defined by @thetab_ ) becomes dangerous when adopted alongside other forms of cultural appropriation. Many influencers in Australia wear tans but they also adopt other African traits such as big lips and black hairstyles. Don’t forget we had @sarahs_day called out for her boxer braids.

And just yesterday Rita Ora was accused of blackfishing after it was discovered she is white. YouTuber Annie Nova in the same article points out how the capitalization of the black aesthetic, for which many dark-skinned people are shunned for already having, takes away from black creatives. Let us know how you feel.

More to come.