How Culture Influenced the Popularity of Suntanning

Fashion has always been influenced by status, and status has always been the reason for fashion. A suntan carried a status of sorts that remained fixed for thousands of years. Pale skin meant status. A suntan indicated that the person was a laborer and spent a lot of time outdoors, usually tending to crops or livestock or building structures for the wealthy, who had the leisure to stay pale indoors or under shade. In ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt, this unspoken rule was slightly modified for men, because warriors were exposed to the sun. But eventually came the Industrial Revolution, in which poor laborers moved inside factories to work, away from the sun.

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But what made a suntan into a status symbol was the concept of a beach vacation. Only wealthy people could afford to spend time frolicking on beaches far from home. When Coco Chanel was photographed after getting a tan on the French Riviera in 1923, a new status symbol was born. That turnaround might remind you of the Dr. Seuss story “The Sneetches.” And yes, there were hiccups along the way, like the lead and arsenic cosmetics women used to make their skin pale, and the gadgets that were invented to battle vitamin D deficiency when time in the sun would have done the same job. Read about the historical ups and downs of the suntan at Messy Nessy Chic.

Source: neatorama

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