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“What’s Women’s Lib Got to Do With it?”

  • Comments: 2
  • Posted on: July 30th, 2009

Victorian era women carried parasols, wore large hats and sat in the shade of the Oak trees, drinking Mimosa’s for good reason.

Not only was their heavily layered clothing extremely warm and cumbersome, making strenuous exercise nearly impossible, but they were also protecting their delicate skin from the harmful, painful, burning strength of the sun’s rays. It was not fashionable in the 1800’s to be tanned – only the poor folk who ‘worked’ outside for a living were ‘berry brown’, thus exposing their ‘class’.

By the early 1900’s women’s liberation gained momentum and females exposed more skin. They proved their equality, acquired job skills and began competing in the ‘man’s’ world, thus necessitating they follow men’s rules. No more lolly-gagging around in the shade, gossiping and perfecting their needlework. Women went to work and this of course meant they more often were outside with little protection from the sun’s relentless fury.

Being a child in the liberal 1960’s meant running barefoot, bareheaded, barelegged and bare shouldered all summer, enjoying the freedom of shorter shorts and sleeveless middrift baring tops. If your Mom made you wear a hat you were classified a nerd – instantly. “Geek’s” hadn’t been invented back then!

Sunbathing became very popular, exposing as much skin as possible to the world and to the sun’s tanning rays. Of course, not all skin is equal, but as a child I listened to the popular older girls talking about slathering on baby oil and being kissed by the sun. It was a painful lesson considering my light skin and blue eyes.

Being blonde haired and blue eyed meant I was at serious risk of developing skin cancer in later life, but as a child it meant nothing to me. Sure Mom was right, stay out of the sun, wear a hat, wear long sleeves, but that was not always possible and with no sunscreen available to me, I was burned to a crisp every single spring.

May was usually the month my first sunburn occurred – and it was painful, year after year. As the summer progressed my skin turned a lovely, healthy appearing golden shade. I had no idea of, and of course, no concern, for the future problems this could and would present.

2 Comments! What do you think? Leave a comment below...
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