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Am J Public Health. 2009 Dec;99(12):2140-6. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.144352. Epub 2009 Oct 21.

Changes in skin tanning attitudes. Fashion articles and advertisements in the early 20th century.

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  • 1School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21287-0900, USA.


Historical reviews suggest that tanning first became fashionable in the 1920s or 1930s. To quantitatively and qualitatively examine changes in tanning attitudes portrayed in the popular women's press during the early 20th century, we reviewed summer issues of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar for the years 1920, 1927, 1928, and 1929. We examined these issues for articles and advertisements promoting skin tanning or skin bleaching and protection. We found that articles and advertisements promoting the fashionable aspects of tanned skin were more numerous in 1928 and 1929 than in 1927 and 1920, whereas those promoting pale skin (by bleaching or protection) were less numerous. These findings demonstrate a clear shift in attitudes toward tanned skin during this period.

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