Today I went to a tanning salon for the first time (the first time in Russia and the first time ever). I’ve always been opposed to tanning due to potential health risks. But it’s strange how the attitude toward tanning is so different in Russia. My friend actually said that she needed to go tanning for her health because her skin didn’t get enough vitamin D due to the lack of sun during the long winter months. Plus it doesn’t seem like a negative thing to go because people rarely go for vanity purposes like they seem to do in America. And it’s quite rare to see someone who is too tan or looks orange and unnatural, something I try to avoid. So I decided since it all seemed like a positive experience here, I might as well try it.
There’s nothing special to comment on as far as the experience itself. I’ve never been tanning in America so I can’t draw any comparisons. One cultural thing worth noting is that my friend and I went in together. Now I know that most Europeans are known for their relaxed attitude toward nudity and being comfortable with the human body in it’s natural state. This seems to apply to Russians as well. They seem to be completely relaxed about this idea and don’t worry so much about taking their clothes off. I remember during the summer my Russian teacher commented on this. She said that people in Russia weren’t afraid to wear a bikini, no matter what their body type.
So ladies, if you go tanning with a female Russian friend, don’t be shocked if she strips down in front of you and don’t be afraid to do the same. I think some of my American girl friends might have been a bit uncomfortable with this. I admit I was taken a bit aback by it as it hasn’t been the norm for me. But I figured it was a cultural thing and there was no harm in experiencing it. If you can change your attitude toward it, suddenly it’s not a big deal at all.