With vampire mania spreading like wildfire, you would think people would be able to find the beauty in lighter skin. From the majestic, God-like Edward Cullen of Twilight to the gorgeous Stefan Salvatore of “The Vampire Diaries,” from fair-skinned actresses like Anne Hathaway to the pale models walking the Yves Saint Laurent and Marc Jacobs runways, pale is hot.

People grovel at these fair beauties, but this beauty doesn’t seem to apply to themselves; in the eyes of the “common people,” it simply resides in the glamorous entertainment world. In Los Angeles, it might as well be a requirement that you have to be tan in order to qualify as a Southern California beauty. Think about it, when was the last time you were completely in awe of and totally infatuated with an incredibly attractive pale person?

The fact of the matter is that tan skin is associated with bright and glowing healthiness, while light skin is connected with sickness and even death; thus, people flock to the tanning salons to obtain that lively glow, as indicated by the $5 billion annual revenue of the indoor tanning industry. What’s ironic about this whole need for a “J-Lo glow” is that people are so wrapped up in their self-betterment, they absolutely will do whatever it takes to make themselves more attractive. Yet by tanning, they are decreasing the lifespan of their youthful beauty. Tanning makes you age faster, up to 90 percent of visible aging changes are caused by the sun, and that’s one of the less severe consequences.

Nearly 28 million people tan indoors annually, 2.3 million of these tanners are teenagers, and then of course there’s the hundreds of thousands of beach-goers who roast away in the sun for hours at a time. Do these tanners know that one blistering sunburn as a child doubles their chances of obtaining the deadliest form of skin cancer? Are they aware of the fact that every year, more than one million skin cancers are diagnosed? Are they informed that 20 percent of the American population will develop skin cancer at some point during their lifetime? Probably not, otherwise they wouldn’t be so reckless with their health.

With tanning comes some serious as well as potentially fatal health risks. Why anyone would thrust these risks upon themselves to conform to this “orange coat” society is beyond me.

The tanners’ defense: the darker I am, the smaller chance I have of contracting skin cancer. Yes, it is true that darker skin better protects against the sun, but this only applies to people who are naturally dark, and even that’s not a good enough form of protection.

It is rare that someone with darker skin will be diagnosed with skin cancer, but when they are it’s normally fatal. Basically, getting a tan is in no way, shape or form a good method of protection simply because there is no such thing as a safe tan.

If you just have to have that healthy glow, there are alternatives. You can either properly apply sunscreen or use self-tanners. While tanning creates permanent damage, self-tanners temporarily dye the top layer of your skin, giving you that oh-so-desired, radiant glow without the deadly consequences.

If you still decide to tan, you have to ask yourself if you’re really willing to endanger your personal wellbeing in order to make yourself more “appealing.” And if you simply cannot fight against superficiality, but you want to do so in a safe manner, opt for the self-tanner; otherwise, I recommend showing your natural color. Having lighter skin that has not been contaminated with skin cancer is much more beautiful than any unnatural J-Lo tan will ever be.