Sunbonnets vs. SPF in the Battle Against Too Much UV Radiation
When I was a kid, we never worried about or talked about UV radiation. Perhaps that was because people didn’t worry about skin cancer or skin damage in those days, or perhaps the ozone layer was thicker or didn’t have holes. In fact, because of my mother’s definition of “beauty,” my sister and I were never outside the house without huge straw sunbonnets, purchased at the local Sav-On Drug Store. Paging through our family’s photo albums reveals pages of black and white photos of two little Asian girls who looked like stubby mushrooms or Laura and Mary Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie because of our enormous straw hats. My mother’s definition of “beauty,” as described by the Japanese magazine,“Shufu-no-Tomo” (The Companion of Housewives), was having very fair skin, so she was always vigilant that my sister and I wear our straw hats to shield us from getting any sun on our family trips to the beach, cherry picking, or to the California Poppy Reserve.
It was a losing battle for my mom as the years rolled on and we became teenagers who grew up near the beach. At the time, the entire country was basking in “fun in the sun” with the Beach Boys. The Coppertone tan was “in”!
Eventually, I married a blond-haired man with blue eyes, and we had two blond-haired children – one born with blue eyes and one with green eyes. Then, I picked up my mother’s gauntlet and tried to protect them from the sun – not with straw hats but with sun block with astronomically huge SPF numbers. It turns out that my mother was correct. We should all be careful about getting too much UV exposure, because sun burns, skin cancers or melanomas, cataracts and macular degeneration, premature skin aging, and immune system problems are NOT beautiful. For more information, see The Institute for Healthy Aging’s fact sheet on “Fun in the Sun: Ultraviolet Radiation Safety.”
Dianne Kujubu Belli is the Chief Administrative Officer of Keiro Senior HealthCare and Executive Director of The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro. Dianne stays genki by doing cardio and light weight training 4 days a week at the gym and recently started yoga on most weekends – which she descirbes as “a whole new experience”.
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