The other day, I came across the column written by Chicago Tribune Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, Mary Schmich in the late 90’s, which was entitled, Wear Sunscreen. There was lore that it was a commencement address given by Kurt Vonnegut, but that wasn’t the case. It was later made into a song by Baz Luhrmann, which you can find below.
When I was a kid, we used to go to the swim club about a 1/2 mile from our home. It was largely a neighborhood thing, so most of our friends went there too. We usually went with our mothers, most of whom were housewives in those days. I vividly remember all the moms taking out their bottles of baby oil, slathering it all over their skin, then laying in the sun for hours on end. It was more frying than tanning. Many of these women had really, really dark tans.
Back then, that was the thing to do. The more tan you were, the better. Sunscreen was not a thing, it was suntan lotion, and it’s main function was to help you get tan. I was not so lucky in with tanning. Light complected, I simply burned, turned red, peeled, and back to pale. I can remember being so jealous and envious of those who could easily tan.
We now know better. Most dermatologists will tell you that tanned skin is damaged skin. Many of my friends’ moms began to appear far older than their age starting in their 40’s. Many had bouts with skin cancer. A price was paid for those deep, dark tans.
People are still tanning. Some people think tanning beds are better for you (they’re not), or if you use sunscreen while you tan you are perfectly fine (again, no). Just as some young people think smoking is something that makes them sophisticated or look cool, there are still those who, no matter what the science community tells them, think tans make them more appealing.
I have noticed that many of the younger celebrities, who are looked up to by lots of young people are celebrating pale skin. People like Kristen Stewart, pictured above, proudly flaunt their non sun-damaged skin. Hopefully, their message spreads near and far.