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Fabiola Creed

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Research Overview

My research is supervised by Professor Roberta Bivins and is kindly funded by the Wellcome Trust. My thesis is provisionally titled 'Advertising, Stereotypes and Health Advice: Understanding Sunbed Consumption in Contemporary Britain, 1978-2016'. In the UK, sunbeds first appeared in 1978 advertised in newspapers and magazines. The first two chapters will evaluate sunbed advertisements during the 1980s. The first chapter evaluates indoor tanning devices used in private households, and the second chapter will explore ‘tanning parlours’ located in unregulated public spaces. A visual analysis will illustrate where sunbeds initially appeared; manufacturing information; the adverts' target audiences, and finally, how they were marketed to the public. Further analysis of these advertisements, combined with archival material and oral histories, will illustrate how sunbed use (both domestic and commercial) became an accepted and popular activity throughout the 1980s.

Having investigated the factors which drove the persistence of sunbed use, the third chapter explores the media-induced ‘moral panic’ surrounding sunbed consumption. In 1991, the first medical authority officially coined the term ‘Tanorexia’ in Britain. This weight given by public health officials led to an emergence of an undesirable 'Tanorexic' stereotype within a wide-range of audio-visual material -- accessible to the public through regional and national television. Through evaluating these medias, I argue that this gendered stereotype extends the histories of women (and homosexual men) being criticised for ‘vain’ and ‘feminine’ consumption. However, the media-induced moral panic was also an attempt to decrease skin cancer rates, aiming to improve the long-term health of the British public.

Chapter Four will evaluate how British public health officials discouraged sunbed use after the new millennium. I will analyse medical advice which was implemented in the form of sun safety education, public health warnings and policies against sunbeds. This chapter will focus on both visual and audio-visual material to evaluate where and how anti-sunbed public health campaigns were used. Oral histories from both medical experts and sunbed consumers will explore why this method was chosen; how anti-sunbed campaigns were perceived by the public, and finally how consumers responded. My research will extend the history of late twentieth-century public health campaigns and will provide answers to whether these image-based campaigns were effective.

Research Interests

Twentieth-century British history of:

  • industry, marketing and franchises;
  • Visual Culture of commercial adverts, 'addiction' (or portrayals of 'excess') and public health campaigns;
  • skin care, health and medicine;
  • culture-bound syndromes;
  • the socio-cultural framing of ‘diseases’ and ‘disorders’;
  • gender inequities in mental health and illness;
  • addiction, the body and consumption;
  • and oral history.

Academic Profile

  •  2016 – 2019: Medical Humanities PhD, Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick, ‘Advertising, Stereotypes and Health Advice: Understanding Sunbed Consumption in Contemporary Britain, 1978-2016’. Supervised by Professor Roberta Bivins. Supported by the Wellcome Trust.

  • 2015 – 2016: MA History of Medicine (Distinction), Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick.
    Dissertation Title: ‘THE TANOREXIA TIMEBOMB’: The History of Sunbed Addiction and The Sunbed Industry in England, 1978-2015. Supervised by Professor Roberta Bivins. Supported by the Wellcome Trust.

  • 2011 – 2014: BA Combined Honours: History and Music (First Class), University of Liverpool.
    Dissertation Title: The History of Bulimia Nervosa among America Males in New York, 1970-1999. Supervised by Dr Stephen Kenny.
    2014: David Thistlewood Award (highest overall mark in Year 2 and Year 3 in the Combined Honours programme).
    2012: Study Abroad Semester Scheme (awarded the sole exchange position on the Combined Honours course to study at Monash University, Melbourne).

Conference Papers

  • (Upcoming) 9th - 10th November 2017: 'The emergence and persistence of sunbed addiction
  • in England, 1978-2010', Society for the Study of Addiction Annual Conference, Newcastle.
  • (Upcoming) 7th November: 'A ‘healthy’, ‘safe’ and ‘deep lasting tan’ – ‘all year long’: The Advertising of Household Sunbeds in British Newspapers, 1978-1988', Cambridge Body and Food Histories (Bodily Modifications interdisciplinary research theme), University of Cambridge.
  • 29th - 30th June 2017: 'From 'healthy golden’ people to ‘tanorexics dying for a tan’: The Visual Culture of Sunbed Consumption in the British Media, 1978-2013', Postgraduate Medical Humanities Conference 2017, Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter.
  • 5th May 2017: 'A Gendered Addiction: The Framing of ‘Tanorexia’ by the British Media and Medical Authorities, 1978-2010', Contemporary Applications of Historical Research Conference, Humanities Building, University of Nottingham.
  • May 2016: 'The Rise of the Sunbed Industry: ‘Tanorexia’ among White British Women: Liverpool, 2006-2016', Department of History Postgraduate Conference, University of Warwick.
  • February 2016: ‘Dermatologists fear the cult of sun worship is getting out of hand: How did medical authorities and the sunscreen industry popularise suntanning during the 1960s?’, ‘Contested Histories’ History Department MA Conference, University of Warwick.

Teaching, Research and Public engagement experience

Other Responsibilities


Updated October 2017.