Dear 16-year-old-Me: You are cuter than you think. Lose the color contacts. And please, don’t rub baby oil on your skin in May hoping to get tan before the Junior Prom! It won’t make you any cuter. (Also, you really need to pay more attention your English class.)
I’m not cute anymore: I’m a Mom. And I can’t get this video by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund, “Dear 16-year-old Me” out of my mind. It’s because I feel responsible for the nasty sunburn my 9-year-old daughter sustained while we snorkeled in St. Thomas last week. (Mom guilt anyone?) Where was I with the bottle of skin block in one hand and a swim cover in the other while she sat on a boat and sustained skin damage from the sun? I am trained in public health, disease prevention and intervention for goodness sakes! If anyone should know the importance of using sunscreen, applying before going out in the sun and then frequently reapplying it, it’s me. And the chances of getting a melanoma if you sustain JUST ONE sunburn before age 16 go up significantly in comparison to those who stayed away from the sun. No wonder I am literally swimming in my own guilt. Anyway…take a look at the video.
Powerful and seriously scary.
Living in Chicago has made me starved for sun. So I guess it’s not surprising that all three of us imbibed in too much sun last week. Maybe if we had seen this video before going on the cruise, we would have remembered how incredibly important it is to slather oneself in UVA and UVB sun screen (not forgetting the tops of one’s hands–that space is frequently forgotten and is a sure giveaway to revealing one’s age.) Maybe I would have also remembered to bring a shirt to snorkel in and thus protect the skin on my back too?
Now as I slather on layer upon layer of lotion on my family’s skin in hopes of preventing Lulu, Adam and my skin from flaking and peeling (Note: it’s not working too well) I have already started to compile our packing list for next year’s cruise. At the top of the list? You guessed it: Sunblock 50 for body, for hands, for babies and specifically for the face. I still love the look of a golden tan but not as much as I hate the idea of a piece of me being removed because I didn’t take the time to care for my skin.
After all, as someone in the video conveys: “Your skin is like an elephant: it never forgets.”