Advocacy: Small Steps, Big Differences
Advocating for any cause can be difficult, and advocating for sun-smart choices is certainly no exception. Teaching others in small but significant ways is where it all begins. We aren’t always successful the first time we attempt to make our voices heard, and it can become especially frustrating as we look for new ways to make an impact and change minds. Sometimes opportunities present themselves in the strangest of places at just the right time.
My Facebook newsfeed is filled with ads for sunless tanners lately. I attribute that to my own recent searches for sunscreen and other UV protection. Unfortunately, along with those ads for sunless tanning lotions and sprays come even more visually striking ads for tanning accelerators from the same companies. Bronzed bodies glistening in the sun with a stunning beach view in the background - who doesn’t notice that? Once you’re hooked by the promise of what you could look like, you soon see that you, too, for the low price of $19.95 can have your own bottle of liquid gold - just add sun.
Tanning product marketing
I’ve clicked more than a few of these ads to see how the products are marketed. As a former tanning addict, it’s clear they know their stuff. They are saying all the right things and promising everything tanners want. From the looks of the comments on these ads, they are making just the impact they intend - they are hitting home with people all over the world, garnering comments and questions by the thousands.
Sharing the dangers of tanning
A few weeks ago, I put on my advocate’s hat and decided to go for it - I dropped my own comment on one of the tanning accelerator ads. I’ve tried this before to no avail. Typically, my comments encouraging sunscreen use and urging others to use protection and not acceleration get deleted quickly, but I always hold some hope that they are seen by a few potential customers before they are removed by moderators. Along with my comment, I included the YouTube link to a video my friend produced of me in the middle of treatment with Efudex. It’s a quite horrifying visual. In the video, I explain my own tanning story and how I increased my chances of developing skin cancer by opting for tanning accelerators instead of sunscreen.
A single comment
A few weeks went by, and I was sure my comment had long since been deleted by the company’s social media watchdogs. In the meantime, I copied and pasted the same comment on a few similar ads as they appeared on my timeline. Then it happened. It’s small. It’s seemingly insignificant in a sea of comments asking about price, effectiveness, and odor of the product, but it’s a huge deal to me - I received a notification. I clicked the notification and found an emphatic thank-you from a potential customer. She watched my video link and admitted she had been considering purchasing the accelerator but changed her mind after hearing about my skin cancer experience.
Your voice can make a difference
I have no idea how my comment lasted as many weeks as it did nor do I know how she happened upon it among the several thousand other comments, but she found it. That’s what matters. Just as important is the fact that others may, too, have seen it and made a similar decision without feeling compelled to make it known. Without realizing, she is an advocate now herself. By making a decision for her own health and giving voice to it, she has become her own advocate and, hopefully, one for those around her. Small steps - those are the ones that matter in advocacy.
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