Coco Chanel invented sunbathing
Tanning and sunbathing are relatively recent trends. Prior the industrial revolution pallor was popular among the upper classes as a tan signified that you had to work outdoors as a manual labourer, while pale skin announced that you could afford to stay out of the sun and spend time and money cultivating your appearance.
This trend halted after the urbanization of industrial activities when working classes moved in poor dwellings and started to work indoor in mines and factories. Even during the not working hours they stayed indoor to avoid pollution and the dangers of the slums. These habits caused children to develop bone deformities and other illnesses. In the meanwhile, scientists started to discover the healthy effects of sunlight and open air. But it was only in the 20ties that tanning suddenly became ‘chic’.
The commonly accepted tale says that the fashion icon Coco Chanel got accidentally burnt during a holiday on the French Riviera and popularized the idea of sunbathing. Bronzed skin became suddenly attractive. Beachside resorts in France started to remain open throughout the summer, that was usually considered off-season, and sunbathing became a pastime for the rich and stylish.
Nevertheless, tanned skin is a relative ideal of beauty. Many light-skinned people who live in US, Europe or Brazil may love a deep golden glow, however, people in other parts of the world including Asia, India and the Middle East usually prefer paler skin tones, and often use products to lighten their natural complexion.