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Tanning Mom is the nickname given to Patricia Krentcil, a 44-year-old woman who was arrested for allegedly sneaking her daughter into a tanning booth. Following the news coverage of the story, she became the subject of ridicule online for having the extreme tanning addiction known as “tanorexia.”
On April 24th, 2012, Krentcil was arrested and charged with child endangerment for allegedly taking her five-year-old daughter into a tanning booth in Nutley, New Jersey. Police were contacted after the daughter complained about pain from a sunburn, claiming that her mother took her to a tanning salon.
On April 30th, 2012, the story was first reported by the local news paper Nutley Sun in an article titled “Nutley police: Child burns in tanning booth.” On May 1st, ABC published a report on the incident (shown left) and Krentcil denied the allegations in an interview with CBS News (shown right).
On May 2nd, CBS reported that Krentcil plead not guilty to the charge of child endangerment at her court appearance in Newark, New Jersey. The same day, the story was reported on other news media outlets including Time, MSNBC, Reuters, International Business Times, Gawker and The Huffington Post. On May 3rd, the entertainment news site TMZ published a video of Krentcil speaking out against critics claiming that they didn’t like her because they were “jealous, fat and ugly.”
On May 2nd, 2012, Redditor jking800 submitted an interview clip with Krentcil to the /r/videos subreddit in a post titled “Piece of beef jerky talks about why it thinks it’s okay to bring its six year old to a tanning salon.” Within six days, the post received over 5,600 up votes and over 750 comments. The same day, Redditor Reptar33 submitted a photo of Krentcil with the caption “They said I could become anything / so I became beef jerky” to the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit.
On May 4th, a Facebook page for “Tanning Mom” was launched, featuring photographs and jokes about Krentcil. The same day, the @CrazyTanningMom Twitter account was created, which tweeted jokes about tanning and skin cancer falsely attributed to Krentcil.
I just love leather, don’t you?
— Tanning Mom (@CrazyTanningMom) May 5, 2012
Saturday Night Live Parody
On May 5th, 2012, comedian Kristen Wiig parodied Krentcil on the sketch comedy television show Saturday Night Live. In the sketch, Wiig came on screen with smoke coming off of her skin and proceeded to toast a slice of bread by putting it in between her legs.
The media coverage of Patricia Krentcil sparked a debate on whether or not tanning is addictive. Known as “tanorexia”, tanning addiction has been presumed to be linked to body dysmorphic disorder: a type of mental illness which causes obsessive concern about one’s physical appearance.