No, this is not a post about skinny-dipping! This is a story about tanning, or, rather, the lack of it. I remember two of my older sisters lying out in the sun for hours, slathering
themselves with baby oil infused with iodine (yes, really.) The quest for a golden tan was the primary pursuit of any summer.
I was always ghost-pale, and a real tan was never in my scope. Nevertheless, I tried, covering myself in SPF 6 and feeling virtuous that I wore sun protection. When I was in high school and college, I spent the hot part of my summer days on the farm lying on a lounge chair in the sun on the front walk, sweating in 90-degree-plus heat and humidity. My faithful German shepherd panted underneath my chair for a while, then moved to the shade. He only re-emerged to drink the last drops of Nehi orange from my bottle (one of his tricks.) And the end result for me was never better than pale beige. Fortunately, I couldn’t stand the pain of a sunburn, so I did tend to give up and go in when I felt my skin get hot.
Twenty years later damage began to appear, but not at first from sun exposure. I had been given X-ray treatments and sun lamp treatments for acne as a teenager. The dermatologist who spotted my first basal cell carcinoma said those treatments were probably the cause, but that sun exposure didn’t help, and I should never have worn anything less than SPF 15 in the sun. But who knew, back then? It was a dermatologist who gave me the treatments that did the damage, and thought it was cutting-edge.
So the end result is I’ve had several skin cancers removed, and I’m now in the land of large hats and SPF 50 every day to prevent incidental exposure. This is the first summer I can remember where I didn’t even put on a swimsuit and cover myself in a waterproof coating of sunscreen to get wet in a pool on a hot day. It just seemed like too much trouble for too little enjoyment.
So unless I rush out at the end of the day today before the pool closes for the season, it’s my first summer without a swimsuit.