A couple of months ago, my column was a bit of a rant about a local authority in north-west England – Liverpool City Council – that had launched a local anti-tanning bed campaign specifically targeting young people. As an extension of this campaign, there was also a call for a national licensing scheme for tanning beds. Suffice to say that things have moved on a bit since then, and I am happy to report that in a few weeks’ time, I shall be having a meeting with the Director of Health for the city, a local government Councillor, the anti-tanning bed campaign manager and last but by no means least, a representative from Cancer Research UK. I really am so looking forward to the meeting!
The agenda for me, and no doubt for them, is clear (albeit they will of course be two totally different agendas). What was less clear, at least to the meeting coordinator, was the complexity of the subject matter, with only one hour originally allocated for the meeting to accommodate the presentations, a full and frank discussion on the various issues and the development of a forward strategy – all objectives set by the agreed agenda. Suffice to say, things have once again moved on and we are now at a minimum of two hours for the meeting, which I still don’t think will be enough but, of course, I can let you know more about that next time.
My main objective will be to debunk the lies and concisely and effectively present the interests of the indoor tanning salon professional and the UK’s indoor tanning industry. For that part I am very confident of my ability to deliver, not least because our industry has an overwhelming number of hardworking individuals who run professional businesses delivering a consumer-centric service, including a good number of, although far from all, Liverpool-based salons. However, it will take all the self-control I can muster to keep my professional cool. Quite honestly, I have been incensed by some of the media coverage, blogging and social network comments and publicity stunts surrounding this campaign, as they perpetuate the lies and myths that have become endemic when making claims against and attacking our industry.
As an irritating example, the campaign attracted the attention-seeking organisers of Liverpool Fashion Week (LFW) who advised the media that they were banning models from their catwalk if they had used a sunbed, and instead encouraged fake tanning. Now this was a clear publicity stunt; as for the 2012 event, the same organisers banned models from using fake tan in order to grab media attention. Unbelievably, the media picked this story up and in the interviews I agreed to do, I advised it was my opinion that it would actually have been more appropriate to ban models from wearing high heels, which posed more of a health hazard than responsible tanning bed use. You can perhaps imagine some of the online response comments!
I also stated another heartfelt belief that the decision by the organisers of Liverpool Fashion Week (LFW) to deny models the opportunity to work in these difficult economic times because of their freedom of choice to use tanning beds was really quite outrageous. And, of course, the smell of hypocrisy was for me head-spinning. Anorexia and drug use are, without doubt, two serious health issues with recorded fatal consequences that remain prevalent within the modelling industry and surely, if they were genuinely concerned about the welfare of their models, LFW organisers would have been better placed to focus on these issues, instead of looking for cheap publicity.
But with everything else I am determined to address at the meeting, I wonder whether I will have time to address this particular issue – well, the fact that I’ve booked a late return train ticket suggests that I will certainly try!
In the tanning industry since 1982, Gary is Managing Director of the UK subsidiary of Ergoline, and runs Ergoline Plus, the exclusive distributor for a wide range of sunless products and spray systems. He is also Chairman of the Media Committee for the UK’s Sunbed Association & a European Sunlight Association member.
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