Getting Your Summer Glow... Is it Worth it?

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Instead of embracing our unique genetic makeup, we often find ourselves making alterations to our physical appearance, particularly, our skin tone. Admittedly, I am guilty of wanting that sun-kissed glow and I tend to feel more confident with a tan, however, in recent years, I have become more aware of the risks of melanoma cancer, and I can certainly say that I'm happy to sacrifice aesthetic tanning goals over my physical health.

Dying to Get a Tan!

According to the Cancer Research Organisation, melanoma skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancers in the UK. This often comes as a shock to most people, as we associate the risk of melanoma with the temperate climates of faraway countries, that we only visit once or twice a year. The reality is that, we are being exposed to the sun everyday, and on those few hot weeks of the British summer, we are either unprepared or knowingly go out and bask in the sun with lack of protection to ultimately try and get tanned as quickly as possible. On those other days of the year, when it’s cold or raining, its not uncommon to go and get your 10 minutes of electric palm beach in one of the many sunbed shops across the country.

Teaching Abroad

Since living in China, my feelings around tanning and exposing myself to the sun have changed significantly. When I first relocated to China, I couldn’t find sunscreen lower than factor 50 in the shops and I was concerned that I would never get a tan with such a high factor. Now I realise how essential it is to wear factor 50 here, and I literally can’t wear anything less without getting a sunburn. I have also crossed paths with many people who have been living in Asia for extended periods of time, and it didn’t take me long to hear stories of people who have had personal experiences with melanoma cancer. What worried me was how young a lot of these individuals were. On the other hand, there are also people who don’t necessarily want to get tanned, but work outdoors or believe that their skin is ‘used’ to the sun because they live in a hot climate or don’t have fair skin. These types of beliefs can be absolutely detrimental to increasing your risk of getting melanoma cancer. This recently triggered my thinking about how this type of cancer can be prevented through regular education on sun safety.

How Can YOU Help in Your Classroom?

I have just finalized a free resource pack for key stage 1 students (ages 5-7) about safety in the sun, this may seem young, but it is absolutely essential that we take a proactive approach to PSHE rather than a reactive one. Over the next months, I plan to make more resource packs suitable for other key stages, I will post an update to my subscribers once these become available. Click Here for my FREE KS1 Safety in the Sun resources.

I would love to know what your thoughts are on annually teaching your students about safety in the sun. I do believe that deliberate exposure to UV rays for tanning purposes is rife, but I think that as educators, we can help people feel more comfortable in their own skin or encourage young people to get their tan from a bottle!

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