I'd always heard, “Everything changes when you have a baby.” While I expected that to be true, I never thought I would be impacted in so many ways by the presence of a little, blue-eyed, chubby-cheeked baby girl named Ava.
In my three years at the MRF, I’ve learned how nasty melanoma really can be. I’ve learned about treatment options
, FDA regulations and cell lines used for research. I’ve learned how to help people with melanoma fight through a terrifying diagnosis, advocate for themselves and demand better care. But the one thing I haven’t learned is this:
When do we, as a society, start to see a baby’s beautiful, soft, flawless skin, as no longer “good enough” as it is? When did we, as a society, start thinking it would look better, or even healthier, if it was tan?
Our protective instincts come out when we have children. I will protect this baby by buying her a good, safe car seat. She will sleep in a safe crib. I will cut her food in small pieces so she doesn’t choke. I will teach her to wear her seatbelt every time she gets into a car. When she’s older, I will talk to her about smoking, drugs and alcohol and bullying. I will take her to the tanning salon before prom so she can get a glowing tan. Right? No, wrong – very wrong. But some parents do it. Why? It goes against every natural parenting instinct we have, but it still happens. And it happens a lot.
Popular magazines and other media, led blindly by the glitz and glam of Hollywood, try desperately to convince us beauty can be achieved by obtaining a “sun-kissed” glow. Tanning beds, tanning lotions, make-up bronzers – all ways we try to “fix” the skin we were born with so that it’s “prettier” and “better.”
Why do our kids think they need to have tan skin to be beautiful? Why do they think they aren’t good enough in the skin they were born with? It’s time to change the way we think. It’s time to change the way our children think – one child at a time. I’m starting with my daughter. She will never wonder if she’s good enough or pretty enough because it is my job to give her the confidence she needs to know the color of her skin is perfect…just the way it is.
Written by Shelby Moneer, the MRF's Education Program Manager