It has occurred to me this past week that people with tanned skin look utterly ridiculous. Not naturally-tanned or dark skin, like my husband (as he frequently reminds me of his 1/16th Native American blood from his mother's side), but people who are naturally fair-skinned like me.
I went to see my therapist yesterday evening for the first appointment in three weeks. I think that means I'm starting to get better, but it does seem that as soon as I get rid of one set of issues, another set leaps up to take their place. Last night for example, we explored money troubles and having a second child, and I came away feeling really exposed. I always look forward to my sessions for a chance to talk about ME for an hour (well, who wouldn't?), but I always come away feeling as though there were a hundred things I wanted to say and didn't. I'm now even MORE worried about money and LESS convinced having another baby is right for us psychologically at the moment. I think we're still going to put the plan in to action in September, but I will have to have had more work coming in if we're going to afford it.
ANYWAY, my therapist has clearly been in the sun recently. She's in her 50s with silver grey hair, and I'm afraid to say that her skin colour did not suit her at all. I'm used to seeing all the Wisconsin-ites have pale, flushed skin from the hard winters we have, so it's a bit weird seeing all these bronzed bodies come out this time of year. We live about ten minutes from a beach on Lake Michigan, and if you walk down there on a sunny day you'll find the entire town baking in the heat and turning various shades of lobster and bronze. Now that I spend most of my time outside keeping my me and my son OUT of the sun because of our matching ivory complexions (heh heh), it all just seems really odd. Why would you deliberately want to damage yourself like that? Why would you risk skin cancer, premature ageing, and even just a terrible sunburn, all for the sake of looking brown and shiny? I don't get it.
They're running a campaign on the Style Network at the moment to get people to cover up and wear sun protection outside. The most startling commercial is of a small child (could be a boy or a girl - it's wearing frilly blue underwear and no top) playing near the sea, and the words that run on the screen are something like: "One blistering sunburn in childhood doubles the risk of skin cancer as an adult." The child then hears its mother's voice telling it to come back inside and it runs off. I WAS that child. I had so many, many cases of sunburn and heatstroke as a child that I've forgotten them all. I know I have to be careful in the sun now, and I'm extra-cautious about Little O. I don't think I'm at a particularly high risk for skin cancer anymore as I deliberately take precautions (hellooooo, factor 50), but it does make me afraid for my babies. I want to be here for them as they grow old, and getting my skin to tan seems like it's a sure-fire way to prevent that from happening.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not the type of person to wear long sleeves and high necklines to avoid ANY sun exposure; I just make sure when we're out and about that we stay close to the shade and wear suncream. I love a moderate heat (nothing above 30C/90F) and will happily take Little O to the beach on sunny days, but I just think we all need to be a bit more sensible. That story in the UK about the tiny baby in Brighton blistering with second-degree burns while his mother sunbathed on the beach made my heart break. I don't blame the mother for anything other than stupidity, because it is hard to protect a child under six months from the sun as suncream is only suitable for children over that age. You don't want to stop a woman from having fun on the beach with her baby, but someone really should have pointed out the dangers to her child sooner. If she wasn't aware of how much damage could be done then she needed educating. But then, I think we all do.
Little O is currently laying here on the floor next to me, hitting himself in the head with a plastic drum lid. Oh yes, that's my child.