Girls in the Sun

When I was fourteen, after a fun-filled day with my friends where we slathered ourselves in baby oil in an effort to get Ban De Soleil brown, I walked home and flattened my towel on the grass in our backyard. The sun had moved from its place high in the sky and I lay stomach down dozing in the warmth of the afternoon.

I still remember the prickle of the grass coming from underneath my towel. When I woke, my head was turned to the side and it took a few minutes to find my focus. Blinking lazily I watched my beach bag and listened to the sounds of the ocean waves in the distance. I was rested and warm even though the sun had moved over the house. Content, I stayed there for a while embraced by the end of a beautiful summer day.

I think about this often, because it’s one of those times where my pleasure filled every last cell of my being. How many times are we granted a memory like that? A memory attached to pure bliss that stays with us forever.

It seems ironic now that my memory was really truly being etched into my cells. Melanoma must have begun during those years and didn’t show its face until my pregnancy hormones (and maybe the infertility drugs, too) sent my body into cancer cell turnover overload.

As summer nears closer, as the weather warms, and as the Internet is inundated with (Oh my gosh I want everything) summer fashion, I am reminded of the importance of caring for one’s skin.

We should all be wearing sunscreen. Melanoma is a gene and you can have deep gorgeous African skin and you can still get the disease.

To all of the beautiful moms across the Earth, I implore you to teach your kids about the dangers of the sun. It’s not a lesson that they will hear, though if you spend your own summer getting cooked to a crisp. You can chase them down with Coppertone, but if I learned anything from my years teaching other people’s monsters, it’s that kids learn by what is modeled.

Wear a beautiful hat. Be chic in a gorgeous long caftan. Get sporty and adorable in an Athleta rashguard or J. Crew’s fab striped board shorts. Boden always does great tunics. Free People and Georgie make amazing beach pants and even Lululemon does UV running tops. The choices are endless and your skin (and dermatologist) will thank you.

As a result of my sun soaked adolescence, I now have a hideous scar (one of many, but the one most difficult to conceal) across my back, near my neck. I try to hide on a daily basis. I have hated it for the over four years I’ve had it and have endured steroid injections and laser treatments hoping to make it disappear.

It isn’t going anywhere.

A few nights ago after watching episode two of The Big C where Laura Linney’s character (in the last stages of her own melanoma fight) tattoos a large C over her scar, I’ve decided to do the same.

When you see it, please ask me about it. I’m not afraid to share. I want to feel proud and I think it will help.

Would I change that dreamy afternoon memory (or any of those delicious days cavorting in the sun) if it meant no cancer?

No way.

The only thing I would change is my insecurity about not knowing who I was and my inability to feel beautiful in my own….. skin.

My wish for the fourteen your old me and what I hope for all girls everywhere is that we can find the beauty within ourselves to not have to change what God has given us.

Oh yes, and I would have slathered my unblemished skin with sun cream.

Hindsight is so twenty twenty!

Calypso Yellow Cotton Terry Caftan.
Buddha Beach Pants
Buddha Beach Pants. It’s not funny how badly I want these.
Calypso cotton sarong. Wear over shoulders or over knees when sitting on the beach.
Wide-stripe board short
J. Crew Striped Board Short. Even I realize that it’s unreasonable to be totally covered all the time. A good dose of sunscreen and a few hours in shorts is healthy. Just re-apply.
Athleta Intrepid Sun Shield. Comes in five colors. I like the zipper to help cool your body when it gets really hot.
Athleta Summer Shape Tee. I have these in a few colors. They are UPF50.  A staple at Althelta, you can always get them on sale.
Real Board Short from They run a little small, so go up a size. Great for teenage girls; they’re kind of cool looking. I’m no teenager, but I have these and they’ve lasted a bunch of seasons.
Gap Sunhat. I tried this on in the store and was surprised by it’s cuteness. The big brim and the fact that it isn’t too floppy make it a winner.
 Whole Hearted Rashguard - Roxy
Roxy Rashguard. Zexy, I think!
caftan! caftan!
Caftan. How cute is this?!
beach pants
Billabong Beach Pants
Tunic #beach season
Emerson Fry New York Beach Tunic.

16 thoughts on “Girls in the Sun

  1. Man, I want that yellow caftan! Gorgeous!

    I was out in the sun a lot as a preteen and teen, too. I never did baby oil, but I sure didn’t wear sunscreen (who did?). I thought when my eyelids burned, it was cool (now they droop).

    My dad, whose skin I inherited, has had all manner of spots removed from his skin. It’s scary. One thing I will say about your scar: I deeply, deeply believe (and as someone who has a scar on my cheek, I think I can say this) that scars are part of what give us all character and reflect our experiences. Yours was a negative one, to be sure, but I love that you are using it to teach others. How is that not beautiful?

    1. I realized that having a mark that I put there next to the scar that someone else put there will open up a conversation. I know people have seen it (like when the hair dresser puts that apron around your neck) and no one ever asks me about it. Maybe now they will!

      Thanks for reading it and commenting!!!!

      p.s. Skipping the race on Saturday. Heading to vinyasa at Evolve, instead. Maybe next year I’ll be able to meet you… or at another race in our future! Have fun!

  2. Gosh. I spent so much time in the sun and all I wanted was that deep dark tan. So much time laying out by the pool. Now, while I don’t purposefully soak up the rays, with kids and being active, it’s hard to avoid. I still turn a dark shade of tan but don’t love it as much now that I’m older (plus my skin is so much more sensitive now). I can definitely see the effects and wrinkles around my eyes. Thank you for the reminder. So important. Loving the Frye tunic and JCrew board shorts.

    1. It’s hard with kids because they deserve the time outside, which means we are out there, as well. It’s just a matter of being smart. Last summer I allowed myself to wear shorts for the first time in a long while and actually felt better because my vitamin D went up. Just have to be careful!

  3. Great post! I have become an old lady about sunscreen and am a lot more diligent about wearing it than I used to be. Especially with my face. I don’t mess around with my face. No less than SPF 70 unless I’m desperate! 🙂

    And on that note, sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement. Living in FL, I swear by mine and refuse to go outside without them. Your eyes are important too and also need protection from the sun!

    1. You are totally correct about the eyes being prone to damage! They can get melanoma, too! I had my eyes checked a few summers ago and was fine, but still wear sunglasses all the time. Especially when I run!

  4. I LOVE EVERYTHING!!! Sweet styles…I would wear them all…I love you Sissy…your style…your smarts and mostly your writing…it always makes me smile. 🙂

  5. Where are those Buddha pants from? I love them!

    Your story is a great reminder. I am not diligent as I should be with sunscreen. Im African American and have never had a sunburn but that doesnt mean I should skip it. Do you have any brands that you recommend? I’ve had a hard time finding one that I can wear daily.

    1. The Buddha pants are by Calypso. They’re on sale and I think there is only a 2 left! I love them.

      I really like Neutrogena sunscreen. The one with the blue top. It comes in a million different UV’s and it has helioplex in it. It’s great for exercising, too. I wear it when I run. I’ve tried so many sunscreens. Maybe I should write a post about them? Thanks for reading & commenting!

  6. Great post – and really great blog! thank you for following my blog it means a lot to me 🙂 I have twin boys and now they are 14 years – and remember to use suncream, but believe me I ran a lot when they were smaller – your twins looks really cute, and I look forward to more poste from you 🙂

    1. Going to check out the Working Group’s Sunscreen database now! I was just thinking I needed to post of list of my favorite sunscreens…will have to see if they are on the list! Thanks for reading and commenting!

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