'Tanning Mom': Does New Jersey Woman Suffer From 'Tanerexia'?

Concern about New Jersey mom's copper complexion has spread.

ByABC News
May 3, 2012, 4:01 AM

May 3, 2012— -- The New Jersey woman who has denied charges she allowed her 5-year-old daughter into a tanning booth has gained national attention for her own increasingly copper complexion, prompting a suggestion that she suffers from "tanerexia."

Patricia Krentcil, known as the "tanning mom," is facing up to 10 years in prison if convicted of second-degree child endangerment. Child services intervened after a nurse at daughter Anna's school noticed she had a rash and the little girl told her it was from going tanning with her mother.

The owner of City Tropics tanning salon in Nutley, N.J., who only identified himself as Anthony, said Krentcil pays a flat fee of about $100 per month for unlimited tanning sessions, and that she tans about 20 times per month, roughly five days per week. The owner added that Krentcil does the maximum time of 12 minutes in a standup booth.

Her attorney, John Caruso, said Krentcil, 44, wants people to stop judging her by the way she looks, and says that she is a loving mother that would never hurt her kids. Anna is in her father's custody.

Anthony said that employees who were there on the day in question told him that Anna remained outside with her father and brother, and didn't go into the tanning booth while Krentcil was inside.

"I never once in my life let me daughter, especially at that age, go into a tanning booth," Krentcil, who is out on $25,000 bail, explained, adding, "I'm very tan and I've been tanning my whole life."

Concern is growing that the woman might have her own problem now that she has appeared on national television. A comparison of the mug shot taken of her Monday with interview footage of her skin, which was an even deeper bronze when she sat down for a Tuesday night interview, has left cause for concern.

"When you look at this, this is somebody who has a problem who most likely has a condition called "tanerexia," where they just don't realize just how much color they have," New York dermatologist Doris Day said. "She's at higher risk for skin cancer, and it also doesn't send the right message to her child."

Krentcil maintains that her daughter's burn was from the sun -- from a day spent gardening -- and not from a tanning bed.

"It's very wrong to presume something that didn't happen, because it didn't happen," Krentcil said, adding that after she gained national exposure, "all of a sudden like I was a murderer."

Her husband, Richard Krentcil, has said that Anna never entered a tanning bed.

"They wrote the story saying Patricia took her into the tanning booth, [that] they were tanning together," he said. "Totally false."

Krentcil's lawyer adds that he does not believe she is addicted to tanning.

"Obviously, she tans," Caruso said. "To call her an addict, I think is a real leap. It feels like it's being exaggerated, to be like, 'Well look at her, she must have done this.'"