Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Breaking the Cycle

I read through other blogs and pages of skin cancer and melanoma warriors.   Some have fought. Some are fighting. Some are fighting for, or in memory of, someone they love.  They are great blogs, and it is amazing how you can end up feeling as if you know someone, just because they are sharing their journey and thoughts.  

Yesterday I read something on one of the blogs that I have just recently discovered,  and I wanted to share my thoughts.  For The Sake of Beauty hit a nerve with me for several reasons.  I know that even a few short years ago, I thought a light tan was beautiful.  So I can still understand the ignorance, but now it just makes me sad to see people abusing their bodies through tanning.  Do they not care? Or do they just not know?

I didn't have the traditional college experience, so the only thing I really know about sorority life is what I have seen on TV.  I was sure that was exaggerated, but now I wonder about some aspects. I had hoped that the appearances were the exaggerated part, and that it was more about sisterhood and that partying was what would develop into networking post-college.  So as I talk about ignorance in this post, my own ignorance about sororities will show.  

If you think about the generation that raised these college students now, they were probably in high school or college themselves when life made the transition from wearing accelerators or SPF 2 oils to get a darker tan to the excessive use of tanning beds.  I was early high school when my mother was a tanning bed worshiper.  She was a red head, but her skin was as brown as could be. Beginning in 9th grade, I would also go to the tanning bed to get a base tan, that sometimes became darker than that.  Now one of my children is in high school.  My point is this, the baby boomers and even the older generation Xers, worshiped the dark tan. For this reason, they never learned and passed on sun safety tips to their children.  Instead they taught them that bronze is better.  Their children grew up in a society that thinks you need to tan before spring break, before prom and before summer break.  The darker are better.  Now these same children are going to college, they have a sorority demanding that they tan almost daily, which would make anyone unattractively dark, and they don't know that it is wrong.  Sure they have heard that there is danger, but just as in my case, it wasn't real until it happened to my uncle's face, and then to me a couple of months later.  

In this specific case, I think the sorority president and every person on the chain of command above them should receive letters and a full educational packet.  You know that this isn't happening only with these two sororities, these are just the two that have been shared at this time.  It should start with them, any bans on such requirements will apply to more than just these two, correct (my own ignorance again)?  If nothing happens, and you want to take it further, then the sororities and the school should be called out publicly for requiring the members to expose themselves to cancer.  I have seen links to the blog above in several places, just since yesterday.  I'm sure that this issue could easily go viral online.  If common sense and the facts do not prevail, maybe the pressure of public opinion will.  

Beyond this case, how do we break this ignorant cycle?  Ignorance is bliss, and we all know that kids and teens are invincible.  All we can do is continue the fight and get the word out there. we need to raise the next generation on better information. Knowledge is power. We need to make sure our children know the dangers of tanning, both indoor and outdoor.  We need to make sure our children know about sun safety.  We need to make sure our children apply sunscreen daily as a part of their routine.  We need to teach our children that when they are confronted with situations where they are told that they have to be tan to be beautiful, they know that they are already beautiful just the way that they were created.  We need to make sure our children are confident in that and will say "I am Embracing My Own Glow"

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