It’s a tan thing

Sherry Snyder

Photo By Brenda Vettel

What is with our collective cultural fascination for deeply tanned skin? And why do we have tanning salons here in sunny California? Obviously we have neither the time nor patience for the real thing, which requires slathering ourselves with baby oil and lying for hours in the midday sun. So we turn to the tanning booth. A lot of us. There are an estimated 20,000 tanning salons in America where, according to the Indoor Tanning Association, indoor tanning is a $5 billion-a-year business. Sherry Snyder is one of the estimated 160,000 tanning industry employees in this state. Born and raised in Chico, 19-year-old Snyder has worked at the Tropical Zone tanning salon on East Avenue across from Pleasant Valley High for more than a year and a half. Snyder attended PVHS and today lives with her pet hermit crab and boyfriend.

Do you like working here?

I love it here.

Do you get free tanning?

I do.

Do you ever spend your paycheck here?

Occasionally. When we get some cute clothes in, my paycheck is definitely a little off.

What do you do for fun?

On the weekends I’ll go out and drink and play around.

Have you ever over-tanned or burned yourself?

Not in a tanning bed. Outside I have. I’ve tanned in a bed to a point where I thought I could go out and tan in the sun, and I just end up fried.

Do you have the mist or spray tan here?

We don’t have the mister tan here because my boss kinda thinks it’s too fake. Everyone says, “Oh you fake and bake?” when you tan in a box that has lights. It’s not fake because you are still getting the UV rays and the tan is definitely real. The spray on is fake and there has been a lot of good and bad feedback on it. We decided not to have the mist tan here.

Do you have the stand up tanning bed?

We have the stand up, royal sun, flat bed and the high-pressure bed. The high-pressure bed is always fun.

What is the high-pressure bed?

It’s cool ‘cause you can’t burn in it. You only go in for 24 minutes and the tan lasts longer. I tell people to use it if they are going to be out of town for awhile. There are only UVA rays [involved]. It doesn’t have UVB rays, which are the rays that cause redness. The high-pressure bed gives you a deeper, golden bronze tan.

Why is tanning so important?

A lot of people that come in here say that tanned fat looks sexier than white fat. Other reasons include weddings and events where people want to get rid of tan lines. People also tan for the simple pleasure of being tan.