Making a List, UnComfort Zone

Diagnosis: Acute Heliolatry Ambivalence

SAM_2073 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:

Symptoms
  • 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
TREATMENT
  • “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.
PROGNOSIS
  • Chronic, requiring regular care and maintenance.
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