Lately, I have noticed many Asian mothers wearing their special sleeves and ridiculous visors with UV protection before getting behind the wheel or being around in the sun. Younger Asians, including me, often poke fun at our elders when we see them wearing those sleeves. My grandmother even told me to use an umbrella to hide from the sun when I go out during the day. Yes, we joke about it now, but it probably won’t be long before we all need to start using these sun protection accessories because of the rising concern of skin cancer in the United States.
According to Skin Cancer Foundation, 20 percent of Americans will have skin cancer in the course of their lifetime. Although skin cancer is rare to Asian Americans, it is still on the rise every year. In addition, diagnosis of skin cancer in Asian Americans is often delayed because there is usually no phenotypic expression until advanced stages. A study at Stanford University showed that Asian
Americans that identified themselves as “westernized” thought it is too much of a trouble to apply sunscreen. They also thought that sun-protective clothing is less important than looking trendy. The researchers believe that the media is partly responsible for implying that tanned skin is more attractive. Our views of beauty and status are opposite of traditional Asian cultures—they tend to value light skin.
Not to say that going tanning is bad, but we should definitely put on sunscreen to avoid sunburns and skin damages that may eventually lead to skin cancer. You don’t even have to wear UV protective visors or those stylish sleeves to cover our skin. All you need to do to protect your body from sun and ultraviolet rays is to apply sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher daily. However, if you are out in the sun a lot, you need to use sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.
Do you think our cultural ideas of beauty are responsible for the increase of skin cancer in America?