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Fabiola Creed

In September 2020, I started a Wellcome Trust funded Medical Humanities China UK fellowship (MHCUK) at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow).

My new email address is: 

My research on tanning culture builds on the histories of commercial businesses, the media and medical experts, and how these stakeholders influence the representations and public understandings of 'consumed' technologies and products - particularly those related to health advertising; 'healthy' bodies; moral panic; stereotyping; stigma, and 'addiction'. An exploration of the tanning industry also adds to the historical narratives that address class, gender, race, age and sexuality.

Research Overview

Thesis title: Advertising, Stereotypes and ‘Addiction’: Understanding Sunbed Representation in England, 1970s-1990s (kindly funded by the Wellcome Trust and supervised by Professor Roberta Bivins).

In the UK, the term 'sunbed' appeared in print press adverts in 1978. The first part of my thesis evaluates these adverts from the late 1970s to late 1980s. I explore indoor tanning devices (used in private households) and ‘tanning parlours’ (located in unregulated public spaces). A visual analysis of print press material, trade directories and national television programmes demonstrate where sunbeds initially emerged; the types of local, national and international manufacturing businesses drawn to selling sunbeds; the changing 'experts' on sunbeds; the adverts' changing target audiences, and finally, how sunbeds were marketed as both 'healthy' and 'safe' to the public. Further analysis of business archive material illustrates how sunbeds became an accepted and popular technology throughout the 1980s.

Having investigated the factors which drove the 'excessive use' of sunbeds, the second part of my thesis explores the media-induced ‘moral panic’ surrounding sunbed consumption. In 1991, the first medical authority officially coined the term ‘Tanorexia’ (or 'sunbed addiction') in Britain. This weight given by public health officials led to an emergence of an undesirable 'Tanorexic' stereotype within a wide-range of 1990s print press and visual material. The 'Tanorexic' was framed and stigmatised on national television, via comedies, horrors, documentaries, talk shows and news reports. I argue that these gendered and class-based stereotypes extend the histories of women, particularly mothers, (and homosexual men) being criticised for ‘feminine’ and 'vain' consumptions. 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.

Research Interests and Approaches

Twentieth-century British history of:

  • industry, marketing and franchises;
  • 'Visual Culture' of commercial adverts, 'addiction' (or portrayals of 'excess') and public health campaigns;
  • audio-visual representations of consumptions, 'healthy bodies', and broadcasts of everyday health advice (from both 'factual' and 'fictional' television genres);
  • skincare, health and medicine;
  • culture-bound syndromes;
  • the socio-cultural framing of ‘diseases’ and ‘disorders’;
  • gender inequities in mental health and illness;
  • and oral history approaches.

Academic Profile

  • April - August 2020: Early Career Fellowship, Institute of Advanced Study (IAS), University of Warwick.
  • 2016 – 2020: Medical Humanities PhD, Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick (Wellcome Trust funded).
    April - July 2019: Wellcome Trust Secondment Fellowship at Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), Westminster.
    Spring 2018: Audited an MA module, ‘Television History and Aesthetics’, to develop my understandings of 'neo-liberal' bodies portrayed through audio-visual media (Department of Film and Television Studies).

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

  • 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.
    2014: David Thistlewood Award (highest overall mark in Year 2 and 3 in Combined Honours).
    2012: Study Abroad Semester Scheme (awarded the sole exchange position on the Combined Honours course to study at Monash University, Melbourne).


Policy Report
Book Reviews
  • Creed, Fabiola, 'Tania Anne Woloshyn, Soaking up the Rays: Light Therapy and Visual Culture in Britain, C. 1890-1940 (Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 2017)' in Social History of Medicine, Volume 32, Issue 2, (May 2019).

Conference Papers

Teaching, Research and Public Engagement Experience

Other Responsibilities

        Fabiola Creed

        Episode 8: Clean Eating and Tanning as Cultural Phenomena (with Louise Morgan and Erin Geraghty), Warwick Postgraduate History Podcast 2020


        ‘Dreaming of a Brown Christmas?, Telegraph Sunday, 1981.


        ‘Tanorexia’, Daily Mail, 16 May 1996.

        Ruining health

        30 July 2009.