It’s the height of summer and I’m suffering from Acute Heliolatry Ambivalence (AHA), vacillating between loving the sun and avoiding it assiduously, a dizzying ricochet between cautious and callous about my sun exposure.
The first step is to admit I have a problem. My AHA a-ha moment came a few weeks ago when I was about to spend four hours in the afternoon sun and I genuinely had no access to additional sun screen — and I realized I was both deeply anxious and totally delighted.
The AMA has yet to codify AHA, so I thought I would give them a leg up:
- Full knowledge of the harm of sun exposure to skin, especially fair skin, co-existing with deep denial;
- Vulnerability to cultural norms of beauty and “sun-kissed” skin, while being pale;
- Erratic application of sunscreen, ranging from obsessive slathering to none at all;
- Feeling scandalized by the deeply tanned or sunburned, with a strong sense of revulsion — and envy;
- Rationalizing sun-damaged skin as “freckled”, including susceptibility to others’ comparable machinations;
- Loving sun on face, loathing sun on face, loving sun on face, loathing sun on face;
- Owning a large collection of hats, not one of which is ever what you want to have on your head
- “The Familial Answer” – Have parents and grandparents who have had multiple grafts to treat skin cancer. Spend some time revisiting those images. See also: personal history of treatment for actinic keratosis.
- “The Aussie Answer” – Slip, Slop, Slap – Trust the folks from Down Under to make it look fun for the fair. Slip on a cover-up; slop on the sunscreen; slap on a hat.
- “The Fashion Revolution Fantasy” – Celebrate and promote the up-and-coming generation of gorgeously un-cooked young women who are setting a new beauty standard. [Editor’s Note: As an aside, and in contrast, the whole tanning bed thing is a complete mystery to me, a business most certainly promulgated by dermatologists of evil intent looking to guarantee their future incomes. Even a hard core AHA sufferer can tell those things are bad.]
- Treatment? There is no treatment. Get over it.
- Chronic, requiring regular care and maintenance.