22 March 2009

Beauty queen almost 'tanned herself to death because of sunbed addiction'

A former beauty queen became so obsessed staying attractive she nearly tanned herself to death after becoming addicted to sunbeds as a teenager. 

Brittany Lietz, crowned Miss Marlyand in 2007, spent all her time perfecting her appearance for pageants, which included two and half hours per week on tanning machines.

But after developing stage two melanoma at 19, she had to undergo 30 operations to remove cancerous moles.

Miss Lietz admitted she nearly lost her life due to her obsession with beauty pageants.

The 22-year-old, now married and expecting her first child, said: "I always had pale skin and wasn't really into sunbathing.

"But after I'd done a couple of pageants, I noticed all the girls there did indoor tanning.

"I didn't think I'd look attractive enough for the swimwear round if I was really pale."

She added: "At the time there weren't any laws or restrictions in Maryland as to how old you had to be to go on a sunbed.

"I told my mum and she wasn't happy about me going. She warned me not to do it but I didn't listen to her."

The former pageant queen, who is training to be anurse, started tanning for just eight minutes a session but she wasn't happy with the results and thought she wasn't brown enough.

"I started going once or twice a week and I loved the way I looked," she admitted.

"I thought I looked healthier and I thought other people would think so too.

"But the more I did it, the more I needed it. I got addicted very quickly.

"Within two years I was going five or six times a week for 30 minutes a time.

"I was so dark that I don't think I could have got any darker. I was officially a tanorexic."

She later went away to college where no-one was aware how often she was using sunbeds.

But on one visit her anxious mum insisted on checking a mole on her daughter's back.

"I'd had a mole on my back since I was about 11 and I really hadn't paid much attention to it," said Brittany.

Her mum took the photograph to show a dermatologist who urged her to bring her daughter in for treatment immediately.

Now she is left with scars all over her body and warns other young girls about the dangers of sunbeds and skin cancer.

She said: "The mole removed on my back left me with the biggest scar. It is seven inches long." (telegraph.co.uk)
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