'Malibu Barbie' Mum, Sarah Willman, Addicted To Tanning Despite Health Risks (PICTURES)

Sarah loves 'the Barbie look'
Laurentiu Garofeanu/Barcroft USA
Sarah loves 'the Barbie look'

Mum-of-two Sarah Willman has been addicted to tanning since she was 14 and cannot stop because she loves 'the Barbie look'.

Sarah was nicknamed 'Malibu Barbie' at beauty college and wants to maintain her bronzed image -- even though she secretly realises her addiction is dangerous.

Sarah uses sun beds for at least 20 minutes five days a week and becomes jittery and upset if she cannot get her fix.

Sarah uses sun beds at least five days a week

While she was a young mom going to beauty college, she used to go to two different tanning salons so she could tan for 40 minutes a day.

In the past Sarah has even got up at 4am before waking her two children Bridget, now nine, and Malachi, now six, up, so she could go tanning.

Now she regularly nips out to the tanning salon in her lunch hour from her office job, or goes in the evenings without telling husband Andrew Eppler, 27, an oil rig worker.

Sarah, 30, from Dickinson, North Dakota, admitted: "There's times when, if the tanning salon was open at 11pm at night, I'd be there.

"In another town where I lived in, where I went to college, it opened up at 5am and I would go before college.

"Then I got memberships at two tanning salons - because they never knew."

Now, Sarah even uses self-tanning lotion and bronzer on top of her sun-bed tan because she feels she is not brown enough.

"I put fake tanner on top of my normal tan in case there's spots I didn't get. You can't always get tanned in certain areas, it's just impossible," she said.

Sarah's obsession with tanning began when she suffered from low self esteem as a teenager, and spent time on tanning and her appearance to boost her confidence.

"I starting using sun beds when I was 14, but I tanned a lot more when I was 16 or 17, as it was easier to sneak away from my parents," she admitted.

"I felt like I needed to be this perfect, skinny tan girl. I was trying to fit in and be cool and popular."

She added: "Before I had kids I probably spent about $500 a month on clothes because it was so important to me to look good all the time," she said.

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Sarah Willman, Addicted To Tanning

Sarah's peroxide blonde hair, tanned appearance and 'Barbie-girl' style, helped her gain part time work as model, even going to photo-shoots in New York and Las Vegas.

"I've had some crazy opportunities, but I can't always go on the shoots because I have a family," she said.

But now, Sarah is starting to worry about the effects of using sun beds on her health and is warning others not to make the same mistakes.

"I think my mom worries, because if I were my mom, and if was my daughter, I wouldn't be happy with it," she explained.

"I do not want me daughter tanning. I don't my children to ever step in a tanning bed. "

Sarah is too afraid to see a skin care expert for fear they might find evidence of sun damage - but insists she will quit in the future.

"I can't quit, I've tried. But I'm going to try again. I'm scared of getting cancer," she said.

"I want to quit before it's too late because I want to be there for my kids."

Husband Andrew added: "Sarah's beautiful the way she is and she doesn't need to tan.

"When she's getting off work and sneaking to the tanning booth and not telling me where she's at, won't answer her phone or text messages, it's like this is borderline addiction therapy needed."

Leading dermatologist Doris Day, from Day Dermatology and Aesthetics in New York, said: "For some people with tanorexia - it could be a form of obsessive compulsive disorder or even depression and treating for those conditions may help break the habit of tanning."