I will probably get kicked out of Southern California for admitting this to you, but I absolutely hate tanning. I hate sitting on a towel at the beach. I hate slathering up in baby oil by the pool. I hate tanning salons. I have been blessed with easy-to-tan skin, but every time I try to go bronze it up by the pool, I'm back inside within 5 minutes. I just don’t like being baked.
Today, a group of my summer school students were discussing their junior high physical education teacher. Overhearing her name, and recognizing her as my physical education teacher 14 years ago, I jumped into the conversation. The teacher must have in her early twenties when I was a junior high student and she was beautiful. She had shiny hair, a petite figure, and a great tan from hanging out on the junior high softball field day after day. But ten years later--the time when my students had her--she had become a bit weathered and had taken to wearing a giant straw rather than the cute ponytail I remember, undoubtedly to block the harsh rays of the sun.
Coincidentally, I was cleaning out a drawer today and I found a photograph of myself taken with a UV camera. It was taken at the First Lady's Conference on Women and the dermatologist had been impressed with my results--barely a spot of damage or infection could be found. The photo isn't lovely, in fact it is pretty weird and unattractive, but here it is:
The bad stuff, which you can't see on me because I use SPF 15 on my face every single day, is indicated by dark, visible spotting or freckling. Bright white spots indicate scary infection. The cameras do not exaggerate normally visible freckles; they penetrate 2 millimeters under the skin to the place where sun damage lurks. If current trends continue, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer, and it seems to me that dermatologists should be using these cameras like crazy to scare all sorts of people into purchasing Coppertone 50 in bulk at Costco.
I might be kicked out of Southern California for saying this, but the sun ain't fun if you ain't wearing the SPF. And, anyway, So Cal can kick me out because, baby, I’ve already got one foot out the door.