Fashion To Blame For Higher Skin Cancer Rates, Says Science, But Is That Really Fair?

Today in "duh, obviously" news, a new study has been released stating that skimpy swimwear leads to higher skin cancer rates. The New York University study examined melanoma incidents in relation to the trend of tan skin and clothing styles, and found a clear correlation between the percentage of body surface potentially affected by the sun and the rates of melanoma diagnoses. Clearly for those of us who aren't able to connect the dots on our own.

Obviously, more skin exposure leads to more risk, but that's not all the study sought to prove. The research also claimed that porcelain, pale skin is no longer desireable because tan skin is perceived as "sexy" and "healthy" and is promoted as such by fashion magazines. In an effort to keep up with cultural definitions of beauty, the study claims we ignore warnings about the dangers of UV radiation to keep our skin tan and therefore, attractive, by fashion's standards. Need a scapegoat, much?

This is obviously a serious issue with devastating effects not to be taken lightly, but to go so far as to blame fashion seems a little oversimplified to me. Yes, tan skin is desirable, but for every Victoria's Secret model, there's an Emma Stone or an Elle Fanning with beautiful, porcelain, pale skin. I can barely open a fashion magazine or scroll through beauty websites without seeing ads for sunscreen. Anti-aging is probably one of the biggest industries right now, and that rests entirely on staying out of the sun. Fashion may glamorize the healthy glow, but it also seeks to protect and warn.

It's not fashion's job to parent us, or think for us. And it's not really a matter of assigning blame. In reality, both ideals are out there, it's just a matter of which one you want to look at, which one you want to focus on, and realize that discarding or overlooking one doesn't mean that it's nonexistent.

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

So the takeaway, because this is an important issue, put on your sunscreen and remember that the more skin you have visible, the more sun damage you're exposed to. But really, I'm still wondering why we needed an NYU study to point that out.

Images: Getty Images (2); ervaviva/Twitter