You Can Lead Them to Sunscreen, but You Can’t Make Them Use It
Last updated: September 2022
So, you have tried your darnedest. You have given it everything you have. You’ve preached until you are blue in the face. Your skin cancer scars have been bared along with a piece of your soul. Despite your best efforts, you still have friends and family who insist that tanning is safe, practical, and beneficial. Sunscreen isn’t part of their vacation shopping list, and they continue to insist on an unprotected beach day. What’s left to do?
Advocacy by any other name…
You have skin cancer or know someone who has, and you are determined to spread awareness. Whatever you do, don’t let the unwillingness of others get you down. Advocacy comes in many forms, and words are just one. When your words aren’t enough to get the job done, let your actions speak for you. There are plenty of things you can do to emphasize the importance of sun-safe practices.
Let’s talk about that beach day
When you are faced with a family trip or vacation with friends, and tanning in the hottest part of the day becomes a talking point, you can still advocate:
Sit under an umbrella
While they tan the afternoon away, you will be showing them that you place a high value on skin that is not burned or sun-damaged.
Opt for UPF clothing when on the beach
There are lots of alternatives for protecting your skin while in the sun, and many of them are beach-friendly. You don’t have to expose your skin to the UV rays to enjoy the beach. They need to see that happening.
Apply sunscreen regularly
Let your cohort see it. Telling them that sunscreen is important isn’t nearly as effective as allowing them to see the practice in action. Reapplying sunscreen at regular intervals while outdoors shows your friends and family that you value its ability to protect your skin as much as you say you do.
Don’t be shy about your preferred time on the beach
Peak hours are 10-2. If you don’t want to go to the beach until the sun is low in the sky, make that known, and make it clear as to why you think waiting is better. The beach isn’t going anywhere. You can have the same fun at 6 pm and in cooler weather. The pros of a beach evening far outweigh the cons.
I really want to emphasize this one. Get out there and have a blast on that beach. One of the biggest misconceptions people have about sun safety is that being cautious means having less fun. They tend to think that sunscreen and shade mean a boring waste of a trip. Show them it’s not that way at all. Allow your actions to prove that a tan isn’t a necessary part of a beach vacation.
Many of us experience these struggles
This article was inspired by a friend who recently struggled with the same situation while on vacation. It hurt my heart to hear her talk about the rest of her group spending hours in the sun while she did her best to prevent overexposure. She held strong, kept it shady, and let her actions do all the talking. She did it. You can, too.
Do you find yourself advocating for skin cancer awareness in unique ways? Tell us more in the comments.
Do you sunscreen in the fall?