This year we visited on Thursday…the day before “Don’t Fry Day.” We visited at 1:00 in the afternoon so that we could rent a beach umbrella and chairs for a cheaper price. (Yes…we’re frugal). Although this is during peak sun exposure and the worst time to avoid a burn, I assure you that we were well slathered in sunscreen, hats, protective clothing, and huddled beneath the aforementioned umbrella. Despite all this, we enjoyed the day as much as anyone around us. And there were a LOT of people around us.
About 30 yards from us was a gentleman that could very well be Tan Mom’s twin brother. I thought about taking photos, but didn’t feel right about invading anyone’s vacationing privacy. Still, the color of this man’s skin was a deep dark brown and he was sound asleep with no evidence of sunscreen around.
Interestingly, there were two women a few yards behind this guy. They were sitting in the sun with an unopened umbrella between them. Hmm…maybe someone should have explained that you need to sit UNDER the umbrella?
I was so tempted to speak up about the dangers of sun exposure when my wife reminded me that perhaps the most effective way to get the point across is not through lecture, but to set the example. So I continued to sit under the umbrella, reading my magazine, and keeping my mouth shut while being sun-safe. But then something happened that just begged me to speak.
Two girls arrived with small back packs and beach towels and set up camp about 30 feet from us. What I witnessed for the next 10 to 15 minutes shocked me. They…applied sunscreen. They not only rubbed sunscreen lotion on, they APPLIED it…definitely the recommended shot-glass quantity if not more. They also assisted one another by applying it to the other’s back. These girls were seriously aware of the need to wear sunscreen, so I just had to ask them why.
As my wife cowered behind her magazine in embarrassment, I approached and introduced myself to the girls and asked what had inspired them to apply sunscreen so thoroughly. Surprisingly, they didn’t scream “pervert!” and run for the lifeguard, but were very nice to answer my questions.
Kaylee had explained that the two of them visited Mexico the year before. “We went out on a cloudy day, so I figured there was no need to wear sunscreen. It turned out, I got burned really bad…I had blisters on my body and my face and it really scared me. I decided that it wasn’t worth it…the sun can damage the skin so easily and I guess it can cause cancer as well.”
Jess was lighter skinned with hints of red in her hair. She said, “I’ve never been one who could tan and my dad has always told me to protect my skin. He had a huge crush on this girl back when he was in high school…she was beautiful and would get tan every summer. My dad is 50 now and he said he saw this woman recently and that she looked to be 15 years older than him because of the sun damage. I don’t want to be like that…all wrinkled and old looking before I even get that old.”
I thanked them both and felt rejuvenated in my hope that people WILL get the message. Kaylee and Jess did...and I'm sure others will.
It’s fun to spend the day at the beach…but you have to learn to respect the sun and protect yourself as well.