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Sun, Salon, and Cosmetic Tanning: Predictors and Motives

Authors: Andrew Reilly, Nancy A. Rudd


The appearance management behavior of tanning by gay men is examined through the lens of Impression Formation. The study proposes that body image, self-esteem, and internalized homophobia are connected and affect the motives for engaging in sun, salon, and cosmetic tanning. Motives examined were: to look masculine, to look attractive to (potential) partners, to look attractive in general, to socialize, to meet a peer standard, and for personal satisfaction. Using regression analysis to examine data of 103 gay men who engage in at least one method of tanning, results reveal that components of body image and internalized homophobia–but not self-esteem–are linked to various motives and methods of tanning. These findings support and extend the literature of Impression Formation Theory and provide practitioners in the health and healthrelated fields new avenues to pursue when dealing with diseases related to tanning.

Keywords: Body image, gay men, tanning.

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