I own a really huge hat. I mean HUGE. This thing should have reflector lights on it to ensure the safety of passersby, it could house several families of small marsupials, it could double as a landing strip for light aircraft and I have been considering lobbying council for its own postcode.
Why do I own such a large hat you may ask? The answer is simple. The answer is that I was born roughly the colour of sand, a shade of pale so astounding I was once told at the beach that my skin was so white it glowed, giving off a luminous, moon-like quality…and that’s not a compliment.
With the albatross of pasty white hung around my neck from birth I was constantly made aware of the spectre of the sun. First by well meaning parents, aunts, uncles, siblings and later by friends and caring partners who did not want to be responsible for having to lather me in Aloe Vera for days on end if I got burnt (which happened very easily). I, of course, made mistakes and got so burnt I had sunstroke on at least one occasion, but as the years went by I developed a very strict sun care strategy (hence the giant hat). In fact my sun safe obsession has gotten to the point that I find myself forcing it upon others and having to fight the urge to rub sunscreen onto the bare backs of drunken teens at music festivals who are starting to look so brown they might just be radioactive. In a strange way it has become something I am quite proud of, I am always known for having sunscreen on hand and a secret hat stashed away in the depths of my bag ‘just in case.’ So it came as quite a shock to realise that my one-woman-mission to get no sun exposure whatsoever turned out to be doing more harm than good.
One day, out of the blue, my doctor suggested running a few tests to see what my vitamin levels were like. I had been feeling tired and thought perhaps my iron was low. A few jabs, a few swear words, a bandaid and a few days later I sauntered back into my doctor's office to be told something very unexpected. My Vitamin D levels were low, not scary low, but low enough for me to need to make some changes. Changes? What kind of changes? Well, I would have to find a way to get some Vitamin D into my body and the number one way was the sun.