Tanning beds and booths have come with health warnings for as long as I can remember.
It's common knowledge that a large amount of UV radiation can lead to skin cancer and premature aging.
The same kids who lather coconut oil on their skin during a hot summer's day are usually the same ones who spend hundreds of dollars at tanning salons.
According to SkinCancer, "people who use a tanning bed before the age of 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75%."
But no matter how many times we warn young girls to avoid these danger zones, it seems like the short term benefit of getting that beautiful glow outweighs the long term reality of developing a serious skin condition.
The Ugly Truth
Three years ago, Tawny Dzierzek was 27 years old when she shared a selfie of her tanning scars on social media.
"If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here ya go! This is what skin cancer treatment can look like ... Learn from other people's mistakes. Don't let tanning prevent you from seeing your children grow up," she wrote in her Facebook post's caption.
After years of tanning, Mallory Lubbock confessed she did see graphic images like Tawny's on the internet, but thought, "Oh, that'll never happen to me." But it did, and now she has a powerful message for everyone who doesn't think twice before they get that fake glow:
“I wanted to bring awareness to not only what can happen when you’re out in the sun without sunscreen but also in a tanning bed,” Mallory told Yahoo. “I went every single day for two years, and almost every day for four. I’m so young and will now deal with this the rest of my life!”
She posted the photos above on her Facebook page, under the caption:
"So, today I got my first cancerous spot removed. I now get to go back for suture removal/wound check, an appointment to get my WHOLE body checked out, VERY routine check ups for a long while, and then routine check ups for life, and almost 100% certainly many more painful ass appointments of getting skin cancer taken off my body.
Damn it 16-year-old Mallory that went tanning every single day for two years. I will try like hell to make sure my daughter will not be laying in a single tanning bed while she is under my roof and I hope her just hearing about and seeing Mama go through this will be enough.
You guys. Get your daughters out of tanning beds. Get your 16-year-old sister out of them. Hell, get out of them yourselves! It’s so not worth it. Is tan skin REALLY worth it? This shit will scar and this shit HURT. I am now the mom at the beach with the umbrella and my SPF 100 HEAVILY applied. Never ever ever did I think this would happen to me (who does?)."
Her viral post has been generating a lot discussion...
"Thank you for this message. Please share with those in government as well. We finally have a law that kids have to be 18 but parents can still give permission. I can't believe sunbeds are still legal. We need to change our attitudes about our looks too, a tan is a sign of damage not of health," wrote one Facebook user.
"I am so sorry you have to go thru this. But I must commend your courage, strength and generosity. You're sharing is such a service! Thank you! Be blessed with good health, happiness and peace!" wrote another.
While some people are sympathetic as to what happened to Mallory and have congratulated her for raising awareness, others criticized the young woman for her past mistakes.
"People need to stop thinking they don't look good enough. My skin is white, or I don't like my natural hair color. A friend of my daughters has a little girl, shes beautiful, a blond. Kid wants to die her hair pink, Mom's going to do it.
My opinion only, I say don't do it, number one, she's a child, the decision is up to you the adult. If this is allowed your teaching your child she does not look good enough. How do they know years down the line this stuff won't affect these kids," wrote one user.