Published November 20, 2014
Bronzed, glowing skin has been the height of fashion for decades, but there could be early signs that tanning may have had its day in the sun.
Students at Maynard High School in Massachusetts made good on a "no tanning before prom" pledge at the event last Friday. In total, 209 of the 283 seniors signed the promise -- organized by student Allison Bosse -- to lay off the tanning booth.
"Our school is known for a lot of people tanning. Kids start in March because they want to be tan in their dresses for prom," Bosse told ABC News.
The Maynard, Mass., school is not alone in creating such a pledge. It was the latest in a string of high schools whose students vowed not to tan before their prom.
The First Baptist Academy of Dallas had unanimous support for its prom pledge earlier this month, with students citing more pallid stars like Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman and Christina Hendricks as having the look they most admire.
The tanning backlash recently stepped up a gear with the furor over the "tanorexic" New Jersey mom Patricia Krentcil, who was vilified over allegations she took her five-year-old daughter into a tanning booth -- a claim she denies.
As much as her alleged actions brought her to the media's attention, it was her deep mahogany hue that drew the most noted critics.
Even self-confessed tanning aficionado Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi of "Jersey Shore" fame recently adopted a paler look. Snooki, who labeled the so-called "tanning mom" a "crazy bitch," has finally jumped off the tanned wagon to help protect her unborn child.
Snooki recently posted a photograph of herself on Twitter with the message, "Whoa look at this non tan. #pregnantproblems," and the comments posted beneath heaped nothing but praise on the pint-sized reality star for her new look.
One Twitter user wrote, "You actually look more attractive like that. Not like a Cheeto."
Though fashions and fads often come and go, suffering for the height of fashion is nothing new. In Elizabethan times, an extremely pale complexion was all the rage. To achieve the look, a poisonous combination of white lead and vinegar was often applied liberally, with disastrous long-term results.
The current trend for a sun-kissed glow also stores up long-term dangers and damage. The American Melanoma Foundation said melanoma is the second most common cancer among 15- to 29-year-olds, blaming the increased use of tanning beds for the rise in the deadly disease.
But while many are wise to the dangers of tanning, a survey published Tuesday by the American Academy of Dermatology found that 24 percent of young adult respondents were either unaware or unsure that tanning beds are not safer than the sun, while only 35 percent knew a base tan does not protect skin from sun damage.
Dr. Amanda Friedrichs said the survey "confirmed that age was highly associated with use of tanning beds," adding that "respondents aged 18-29 years old were much more likely than those over age 30 to report using a tanning bed."
Back in Patricia Krentcil's home state of New Jersey, one Assembly committee is taking direct action, voting five to two Monday to approve a measure that would bar under-18s from using tanning booths or beds.
Though the state currently prohibits under-14s from tanning indoors, cancer societies urged the assembly's Women and Children Committee to tighten and extend its regulations -- a move cancer charities would like to see nationwide.