(Me at Prom. I stopped tanning about 6 months before this)
When I was younger, I wish I were more confident in myself. Like all teenagers, I wanted to fit in. Throughout Junior High I was bouncing back and forth between groups. My best friend had moved away in 8th grade and I had to learn to be social by myself. Being a teenager is hard. I wanted to fit in and be like all the other girls my age. Which leads me into, what I like to call it, my skin story.
(My friend S and I in high school- I'm on the left. If you look closely, you can see my tanning heart on my right hip)
The first time I went tanning I was in 7th grade. It was after a comment was made towards me from a teacher on how pale I was. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was in the cafeteria with my group of friends eating. We were talking with one of the teachers that was supervising the lunch room. He told me he was going to start calling me Elmer, because I was as white as Elmer’s Glue. I just laughed because being in 7th grade, I never thought it was a big deal that I was pale… I didn’t know what else to do. I don’t remember anything after that, really. I guess you can say that was the beginning of me being self-conscious of my pale skin. I remember my mom taking me to the tanning salon in 7th grade because I probably begged her to.
(This is my freshmen year of college. I'm on the right looking mighty tan-for me!)
By the time my freshmen year of high school came around, I remember my girlfriends and I would go to the tanning salon rather than out to lunch (like normal people do- ha!). I wish I knew back then, what I know now. Fast-forward; through one toxic relationship gone bad, going off to and then graduating from college, finding the perfect guy, and during those 9 years, I was tanning on a regular basis! The tanning salon employees knew my name. However, About 3 years ago, June 2010 to be exact, I was medically diagnosed with dysplastic nevus syndrome, which is a skin condition, which can be passed down genetically, or be brought on by over exposure to tanning or the sun. Light skin and light eyed people are more likely to get it. Dysplastic nevus syndrome is where the majority of the moles and freckles on your body are more likely to (but not automatically) turn into cancerous moles. Once diagnosed with this condition, I have to be closely monitored almost every month. If I’m clean of abnormal moles, I can skip the next month. With each appointment comes a full body check, which includes looking for irregular looking moles and/or freckles. Depending how severe the mole looks, it can just be monitored closely, or it must come off by surgery. Surgery involves removing the mole and sending it to a lab. That’s when they test it for atypical cells, which cause cancer, or more specific melanoma.
My friend J and I last summer in the Dominican Republic. (I'm on the right)
pt. II coming next...