beauty

"I got a spray tan and suddenly became about 10 times hotter"

Featured image: Nat with no make-up on, vs Nat with a spray tan. 

Last week, I went and got myself a spray tan.

My usual beauty salon, The Parlour Room in Clovelly (best salon ever – they’re open late every night and they have a lolly bar), were training up their spray tan technicians and offering free spray tans.

I had a spare afternoon and needed to get my eyebrows done anyway, so I went along and got a spray tan too.

Nat with a spray tan.

I've had a few spray tans over the years, but it's quite rare that I go and bother to get one. After all, I'm lazy, and tanning is a lot of effort. You have to exfoliate, you have to do extensive hair-removal, you have to choose a special tanning outfit, you have to wait for the tan to set in and then shower and then moisturise and then keep moisturising...

Also? It's an expensive mission. A good spray tan can cost $45 - if you get one every week, that's over $2000 a year, on spray tans alone.

At-home tanning solutions are also sent straight into the too-hard basket for me. Despite a cupboard full of tanning products, anything beyond a St Tropez Instant Tan requires precious minutes that could be spent doing other things, such as drinking wine and generally wasting my life away.

But this time, the "free" thing got me. So I went to the Parlour Room, they blessed me with a perfect tan and sent me on my merry way.

Now, let's just establish something - I'm not usually one of those girls that is constantly getting hit on. When people comment on my appearance, it's usually to tell me that I look tired, which we all know is just the compliment to beat all compliments *cough*. Once, a guy stopped me in the street to tell me that I was adorable, but it was only because I was wearing a jumper with a penguin on it at the time.

Oh, how the spray tan changed all that. As soon as I walked out of the salon, the male and female attention started - and didn't stop.

Nat with no spray tan.

I got wolf-whistles. Cars beeped at me. A guy at the petrol station told me that I was so beautiful that I made the weather beautiful, too. (That was equal parts sweet and creepy.)

I went to uni and then to work. EVERY single one of my uni friends and work colleagues stopped to tell me how much better I was looking. "You look so healthy!" they gushed. "So relaxed! So... glowing! What have you been doing with yourself?"

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"It's just a spray tan," I muttered, as their kind words made me spin into the kind of paranoia that is so unique to self-conscious girls.

"How hideous am I usually?" I wondered to myself. "How tired and unhealthy and washed-out do I look without a tan? Do I need to be getting spray tans every week?"

It's a universal truth that spray tans make you more attractive. They slim you down, they make your teeth whiter, they cover cellulite and make huge expanses of white flesh look like small bits of bronzed, healthy flesh.

That's why models are constantly getting spray-tanned. That's why body-builders and pageant queens get spray tans before big competitions. That's why women pay up for tans before parties and balls and weddings.

But what happens when your sense of worth becomes inextricably linked with your fake tan? What happens when you know you're only attractive when you've got a layer of tan slathered over your skin and your face?

I know this is a first-world problem. I know it is. But every girl I've spoken to has said that whenever they get a spray tan, the male attentio increases. The compliments rise. And their self-esteem soars - when at all other times, it could really be quite low.

Tanorexia is a real problem. Girls get obsessed with how they look with a tan and send themselves down a path to get browner and browner and browner, thinking that the more fake tan they have on their body, the hotter they're going to look.

As for me? I've tried - very hard - not to obsess over it.

Yeah, I do look better when browner, and I'll top up the tan with my Bondi Sands gradual tanner as it fades away. But I'm also going to try and convince myself that I still look good without the bronze - even if people go back to telling me that I look tired all the time.

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Have you experienced the barrage of compliments that comes with getting a spray tan? How did you react?

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