With a giant hole in the ozone layer above Australia, there is an entirely different approach to spending time in the great outdoors here. One in three people suffers a bout with skin cancer, and evidence of it is common; I see many a reconstructed nose, bits of ears missing, or grafted skin on various parts of people’s faces and arms.
Sure – everybody needs their dose of vitamin D, and so between September and May people are advised to be outside for just five minutes, twice a day, before 10am and after 3pm. During the winter months, your twice daily dose of vitamin D can be increased to 15 minutes. And no matter what the time of year, if you are outside between 10am and 3pm, “slip slop slap” applies.
Slip Slop Slap is part of a marketing campaign launched many years ago to promote proper protection against the sun and to create responsible outdoor habits:
Slip on some sunnies (Australian for “sunglasses“).
Slop on some sunscreen.
Slap on a hat.
Yes. You will visit beaches and see the regular round of sun-worshipers working hard on their tans. But you will also notice that the vast majority of them are rebellious teens who haven’t yet come to understand their mortality. Any native Australians I have chatted with who are in their 30s or older are usually proud of being pasty-white, and have tales of a few awful sunburns growing up, and few if any years of boasting good tans. Mostly out here, you just burn. And even when you do tan, one year of fostering that golden look will easily add five years to your complexion.
A friend of mine cited spending a summer in Italy, where she discovered that she actually has the ability to develop quite a nice tan without really trying; but back in Australia, the same level of outside activity simply led to painful burns.
So as the summer encroaches, I will start to adopt the Australian sun-slogan: Slip Slop Slap. Already I have forgotten my sunnies on occasion and regretted it; out here the sun truly has a blinding strength that I am unaccustomed to. I have said goodbye to my beautiful Hawaiian tan, and am saying hello to a pale freckle-free look. It is the “style” here, after all.