Even in these times of awareness about the dangers of UV and the sun, there’s still plenty of sunburn going on. Of course, we can’t protect ourselves from everything, and we do need our vitamin D, but as an adult, there’s no reprimand if we stay in the sun too long. Nobody yells at you. It’s more ooh that’s going to hurt later than what an irresponsible individual you are.
Coming from Australia, where the hole in the ozone layer means that the intensity of the UV is extreme, the danger of getting burnt, and all the bad things that come with it, is much higher than in other parts of the world. Just read this terrifying quote that I found online at the Cancer Council ACT: “At least 2 in 3 Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before the age of 70.”
Perhaps it’s because of the way the sunburn message was drilled into me growing up. But whenever I do get sunburnt, what happens to me is that I become terribly ashamed. What was I thinking, I ask myself. I’ve gone and done this stupid thing which was easily preventable. What an idiot! I hope nobody finds out.
It’s not so much that I think I’m going to die; it’s more that as an adult I should be smart enough to know better, and also to do something about it. And coming from Australia, I don’t want to be one of those stats. In the (apparently likely) case that I do get skin cancer, I don’t want people to look at me and assume that I was ignoring the risks.
So I’m extremely embarrassed to admit, that it happened to me the other day. On May 1st, it was a gorgeous day, and before stepping out for a long walk with a friend, I realised it was gorgeous, and left my jacket at home. When I returned, I knew I should have a break from the sun, so I waited a bit before heading out into the garden. Then of course the gardening took a little longer than I was expecting… and well you already know where this is heading.
When I looked in the mirror the next morning there it was – red – the parts of my neck, shoulders and back that weren’t protected by my clothes. Not English tourist red, but still red. I was mortified. I stood in front of the mirror pressing my collarbone in horror and watching it change from white back to pink, with hubby in the background telling me not to worry about it.
I guess the thing to remember is that it does happen. Even with the best of intentions. Because generally I tend to go overboard with the sunscreen instead of under. I truly thought it was too early in the season. If I’d been in Australia I would have definitely taken action, but in Europe it’s different. It was only the 1st of May. We’re almost at the end of May now and it’s going to be 13 degrees and raining all day today. It’s definitely not high summer. So I guess I can forgive myself this transgression?
At the very least what it’s done is shown me that summer is on its way (slow as it may be). So I’ve pulled the sunscreen lotion out of storage, I’ve found my gardening hat, and if I take another long walk in glorious sunshine I’ll definitely slip, slop, slap before I go out. I’ll do what I can to prevent it happening again. ButI’ll for sure feel the shame if it does.