Self-tanning students face judgement from peers

Evelina Gaivoronskaia | Staff Writer

Sophomore Madelin Brutvan tans her legs fo her Irish dancing performances, to draw attention to her legs. SHe said that although she sometimes gets comments, she doesn’t take them as mean-spirited.

The tan line between stylized and stigmatized is a thin one.

Tanned skin is considered a standard of beauty in today’s world. Yet not everyone becomes tan by laying in the sun. Some Mason High School students choose to use self-tanner as a way to bronze their skin. 

Senior Allie Filippi participates in Color Guard and said their long practices in the sun often lead to tan lines. She said self-tanning is a way to cover them up before big events like homecoming. 

“The first time I self-tanned was freshman year before homecoming,” Filippi said. “I had really bad tan lines from being in the sun with the marching band and I had a strapless dress, so I wanted to make the tan lines even.”

Looking beautiful for a big event, however, isn’t the only reason for people to use self-tanner. Sophomore Madeline Brutvan uses self-tanner during her Irish dance competitions. She said she self tans exclusively for competitions and only tans her legs. 

 “I self-tan for dance,” Brutvan said. “For dance, I tan my inner legs because it makes your muscles look bigger when you’re on stage. It makes the judges pay more attention to your legs.” 

Although self-tanning is often marketed as an easy way to achieve tan skin, it can sometimes turn against the user, making their skin splotchy or orange. Filippi said that if she puts too much self-tanner on it can lead to orange streaks on her skin and make her self-conscious.

“If I have an orange line, my mom might say some negative things, but for the most part I don’t really get any negative comments,” Filippi said. “Sometimes, if my tan doesn’t come out the way I wanted it to, it can make me self-conscious and I will try to just cover it up.”

Sometimes Brutvan’s self-tanned legs can lead to remarks from her peers, but she said she doesn’t think they are meant to hurt her feelings. She said she usually interprets those comments as friendly jokes, not hateful comments. 

 “I guess some people make fun of me, but they are just joking around and it’s not really hateful,” Brutvan said. “They say things like, ‘Your legs look really dark’ or, ‘You kind of look like Donald Trump.’ I just think it’s funny and I don’t really take it negatively.”

Filippi said there is a double standard when it comes to self-tanning. According to her, beauty standards of today’s world can lead to young girls wanting to be tan and attempting to achieve that with self-tan, but being shamed when it does not look natural. 

 “I know people who are very pale, like me, because I am a very naturally pale,” Filippi said. “Pale people are seen as less pretty and it can drive them to self-tan. But if you self tan wrong and get super orange, you can get made fun of. But I think if you do it in a natural way, most of the people don’t even notice.” 

Photo contributed by Madeline Brutvan.