I grew up in New York, a city girl through and through. I didn’t spend my day by the beach as much as I did hanging out on a friend’s front stoop, or at the neighborhood pizza parlor. Nevertheless, our summer tans were just as important to the girls in Brooklyn as they were to California surfer girls.
My girlfriends and I hung out on “tar beach”, slathered in baby oil, holding tinfoil-covered reflectors to catch every ray. There was nothing better than getting some color during the day and heading out for the evening, all dressed in white, the better to show off our tans.
It sounds crazy now, to think that we were allowed to lie in the sun all day with no protection from it. Sunscreen was barely suggested back then (and I’m not talking about that long ago) and if it was, it was a level 2 or 3! The worst of the three serious sunburns I recall from my youth happened during a trip to Florida to see my grandparents. I woke one morning with my eyes so swollen and my face so puffed up that I looked like ET’s sister. This beautiful look soon turned into peeling blisters. “Sun poisoning” grandma said and tsk tsked me.
And I was back out in the sun a day later.
But times have changed. We know better now about health and wellness than our parents did as we were growing up. There is so much that we experienced as kids that we would never do now.
Society has changed as well. When I was a young girl there was nothing that was thought to be more beautiful than being tanned. It was a sign of wealth and leisure and sophistication. These days we are much more aware of the risk of too much time spent in the sun. Whether it’s pure vanity that keeps us out of the sun or knowing the more damaging effects of sun exposure, being pale is no longer considered unbecoming.
I now live in Southern California, and am often at the beach because I have two young children. I look at their beautiful, white skin and shudder to think of them doing the things I did as a kid. They wear sunscreen and their UV Skinz sun wear on a regular basis, and think nothing of it. I talk to them about taking care of their skin, about how the sun can damage it and why it’s important to take care of it.
As a mom, modeling a healthy lifestyle for our children extends beyond the foods we eat or that we get out to move our bodies every day. It also means I need to show them the importance of taking care of our skin and being aware of the effects the sun has on us.
Mama is just as pale these days as her babies…and proud of it!
Gina Osher, the daughter of world-wandering hippies, is a former holistic healer turned parenting coach and mother of boy/girl twins. She is also the author of the blog, The Twin Coach in which she offers advice, bares her soul, works though her imperfect parenting moments and continues on her journey to be a more joyful parent. Gina is dedicated to helping others find both a deeper understanding of themselves and a stronger connection to the children they love.