Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Just Call Them Freckles Lady

I had the funniest conversation at work today. We had a workplace health fair that featured some useful booths that checked your blood pressure, offered tips for good eating habits and even better, offered free healthy food samples (I’m always thinking with my stomach while I’m at work!). Then there were the booths that were simply vendors trying to shill their services such as chiropractor who was giving away “free” services with a wheel of fortune and the Mary Kay rep who couldn’t stop looking at my ring, told me that she does wedding makeup and wrote down my wedding date on a raffle entry form – yikes! I’m expecting to see her show up on my door stop.

Falling on the side of a useful service, there was an elderly nurse manning a table with a device that shows skin damage. I had poked my head into one of these a few years ago at another company health fair and I remember being horrified at how much skin damage it showed. That should’ve served as a warning this time around, but I was thinking it would be useful to see if anything had changed. The device resembled what I picture as an old-fashioned camera where the photographer stuck their heads under some sort of tarp to look in the camera. This time around, it was me putting my head under a tarp to be met by nurse’s eyes staring from an opening in the open end. Some sort of dark or UV light was on, which meant that my eyes and teeth glowed a neon yellowish/green but more importantly, I could see hundreds of freckles on my skin. When I took my head out, I commented to the nurse:

“Wow, it’s distressing to see all those freckles underneath the visible ones that I already have.”

She replied, “No, those are spots of skin damage.”

I persisted with, “Yes, I can’t believe how much skin damage is naked to the visible eye. I’m just used to seeing my freckles as an indicator of how much sun I’ve been exposed to.”

She countered with, “You have those spots of skin damage because you’re not wearing enough sunscreen.”

I wanted to say, “Look lady, those spots you can see on my face are called freckles. Little kids have them, adults have them, Morgan Freeman has them. I realize that everyone has skin damage from being out in the sun, but not all freckles should be considered skin damage. They are a genetic reaction to be exposed to the sun depending on the amount of melanin you have in your skin.” Ok, I probably wouldn’t have sounded that smooth in the moment, but seriously, I was just annoyed by the fact that she wouldn’t acknowledge my freckles!

Then she had me apply a little dab of sunscreen to the tip of my nose and stick my head back under the tarp to view my face again. She explained, “See how your nose is protected with the sunscreen on it?”

Which made me think; 1) What the heck kind of light did she have me under? If it was a UV lamp, why would they have me put my face right up to the lights on a table that was also displaying brochures with the hazards of tanning? And 2) I don’t believe you. I had only applied the barest amount of sunscreen to the tip of my nose, and all of a sudden, I had a huge purple splotch around the whole of my nose and that was supposed to indicate SPF protection? Was the SPF spreading through my pores that quickly?

The most annoying part was that I had the smell of beachy sunscreen stuck in my nose for the rest of the day, even after vigorously wiping the area with a wet paper towel. I know this sounds like a stupid thing to get annoyed about, especially with an elderly women who was trying to provide sound advice on skin protection, but I was all riled up about my freckles for the rest of the day!

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