This research paper examines how skin tanning attitudes and behaviors influence our perceptions of race, class, and gender. I also focus on White people and the possible relationship between racial bias and favorable opinions of tanned skin among this population; there is currently no research on this. This study is pertinent because within the last century tanned skin has become a beauty standard in Western society and People of Color continue to face discrimination on the basis of skin color. Additionally, various populations in Western society are pressured to engage in this behavior and to conform to standards, such as women and individuals of lower socioeconomic status (SES). Data was conducted with college students at a small liberal arts school in the Midwest in two phases. The first phase of data collection involved an online survey on tanning attitudes and behaviors, and the second, an Implicit Association Test (IAT) on racial bias administered only to White students. My results indicated that women tan more frequently than men do; that lower socioeconomic status individuals tan more frequently than higher SES individuals; and that there is likely no correlation between racial bias and tanning attitudes and behaviors.


Nurse, Anne


Sociology and Anthropology


Race and Ethnicity


Tanning, colorism, and White hegemony

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



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