If you've never heard Baz Luhrmann's "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", do yourself a favor and listen to it on YouTube right now. Inspired by a 1997 essay penned by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich, Baz Luhrmann dispenses Mary's on point advice about life through a spoken word song starting with: "If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it." We first heard the song in 1999 when it sneaked its way into Volume 2 of the "Now That's What I Call Music!" CD series after Backstreet Boy's "I'll Never Break Your Heart" and Jay-Z's "Hard Knock Life". Since then, we've replayed it over and over again whenever we've needed a reality check on family, on love, on aging. Surprisingly, however, the one piece of advice we've taken least seriously has been the bit about sunscreen.
As beach bums, beach volleyball players, and surfers, we've basically been professional beach-goers all our lives. Overtime we've become experts on how to pack for the beach, how to set up on the beach, and how to entertain ourselves on the beach for hours. Somehow, we've simultaneously remained amateurs when it comes to sun protection. We're talking about going out during the harsh midday sun (the sun is most damaging between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.) after one application of 50 SPF followed by the rare reapplication. We shudder to think of the sun damage we've allowed to our bodies from years of so-so sunscreen use and poor decision making.
Well, the damage stops now. The catalyst? This cautionary tale from "sun abuse survivor" Eliane Kirschbaum:
"Two years ago I woke up with a really weird, persistent, and eventually bleeding pimple on the top of my nose. I soon after learned that the pimple, wasn't a pimple—I had skin cancer. I was shocked. How could this happen to me? Well, the reality is that the sun does not care who you are. If you don't protect yourself, you are at risk."
Don't worry, Eliane is fine now but she is one of the lucky ones and she wants us to be even luckier by helping us avoid skin cancer altogether. With that goal in mind she started a campaign called "FTheSun" to spread skin cancer awareness through sun protective gear and accessories. Well Eliane, mission accomplished. Yesterday we spent an entire day at the beach wearing our "FTheSun" #Shady cap and it was a constant reminder to #stayshady. In fact, it prompted us to buy a sun shelter with 50 UPF (this portable, easy to set-up Rio sun shelter to be exact) to further minimize our sun exposure during our almost 12-hour day shooting surf photos at the beach. We look forward to making these steps (sunscreen, hat, and sun shelter) a part of our regular beach bumming routine for Mary Schmich, for Baz Luhrmann, for Eliane but, more importantly, for ourselves.
What do you think of our beach set-up? How do you #stayshady at the beach? What other tips do you have for beach bumming safely? For sun protection? Leave a comment below or send us a tweet @ThankYouMiami!