By Karen Wells | CNA Media Team
February’s not a time for thinking of sunscreen or how to avoid sunburn. Scattered sunny days are celebrated with bare arms and legs. No need to cover up, scout for shade or sunscreen.
Unfortunately, the makers and advertising teams of major brands of sunscreen project the illusion that sunscreen is primarily used to protect pale skin from the sun’s damaging omnipresent rays.
Sunscreen protects everybody’s skin. All shades of skin – from pale to dark – need a healthy layer of sunscreen when summer’s hot sun shines. That’s right, people with dark skin do sunburn.
How do you ask your dark-skinned neighbor, nice person, African American, which sunscreen product do they use? Or how do you respond if your child asks you if a dark-skinned friend needs to put on sunscreen before they race off to the swings?
You might feel awkward about asking. You might feel embarrassed by the question.
These examples, on the surface, might appear to fall in the category of cross cultural differences. Closer examination reveals that the questions are actually about skin care and avoiding sunburn and skin cancer.
We all ask questions to show concern or interest. Showing concern or interest in the well-being of others builds friendships and community.
Asking a friend, who happens to be of darker skin than yours which sunscreen they use, for example, might be received well or not. You and your friend might launch into a lively discussion on the pros or cons of sunscreen use.
At the end of your lively conversation, you both might admit your awkwardness with the topic, followed by laughter.
Before asking a potentially awkward question of a friend or anyone, have a mindset of patience – patience with yourself and with the awkwardness.
We’re all under one sun. Thanks for asking.
Karen Wells is a retired early childhood community educator, health and safety trainer.