We Are Sunshine

TODAY’S HEADLINE STORY: Humans have always been attracted to sunlight

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Human attraction to sunlight and the suntans that result from being in the sun goes back to ancient civilizations — with irrational anti-sun behavior being a relatively new phenomena.

“Tanning has a long and documented history, dating back as far as the earliest known civilizations on Earth,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said. “Mankind has always been naturally drawn to the sun. Early human cultures worshiped the sun as a God.”

2008-09-10-history-lesson-copy.jpgThis history lesson is taught in a quick, but important first section to Smart Tan’s Basic-Technical certification. Click here for more information on Smart Tan Basic-Technical Certification.

Early cultures throughout the world developed a therapeutic practice of sunbathing for health called “heliotherapy.” The earliest medical schools taught that the sun was a viable medical remedy for certain illnesses. Assyrians and Egyptians commonly treated their sick by laying them in the sand under the sun. The ancient Chinese recognized the rhythms and cycles that the body experiences with the change of day and night, as well as seasons of the year. The Roman Empire also emphasized that light and climatic therapy was of great importance. The continued medical use of sunlight can be tracked from the 1st century A.D. through the 13th century.

But in the Middle Ages elitist standards artificially turned people off of suntans — which Elite Society now said was linked to dirty, outdoor work. So it remained for hundreds of years, as the wealthy classes strove to maintain the whitest skin possible, free of any impurity of color that could link them to the land or to work outdoors. Their efforts often proved deadly. Women of ancient Rome and Greece actually used lead paint or chalk to make their faces white, despite restrictions on the use of these materials, which wrinkled the skin prematurely and led to death through slow poisoning. By the mid-17th century, arsenic became the preferred choice of skin whitener among women, resulting in thousands of deaths.

It wasn’t until 20th Century Fashion Mogul Coco Channel started intentionally tanning — considered scandalous in the early 1900s, but a part of the growing women’s liberation movement — that the “Dark Ages”
started falling apart.

“Recent efforts by the dermatology lobby to scare people out of the sun, in their own way, are similar to Society’s big mistake of the Middle Ages in avoiding the sun,” Levy said. “Today people are intelligent enough to know that moderation — and not sun abstinence — is the smartest way to maximize the benefits of regular sun exposure while minimizing the risks associated with either too much or too little exposure.”