Note: This column appears in the 7/7 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/8 issue of the Peoria Times
When I was growing up, it seemed like every other week on the news a report would surface about how butter is better for you than margarine … which would be followed a couple weeks later about how, no—margarine is better. And so on and so forth. I don’t know which product won, but one time my mom brought home a bottle of butter spray, which I thought was disgusting, but I still used it.
Anyhoo, my point is that … I’m not really sure. What was I talking about? Butter? Really? Hmmm. Allow me to transition.
In my book—oh, you didn’t buy and enjoy my book yet? That’s too bad. Please do, and then feel free to rejoin this conversation—there is an entire chapter about how, in attempting to become a tan person living in Arizona, I ultimately realized that it’s much more important for me to be protected in the sun. The person most responsible for this revelation was my wife, who was like, “You’re an idiot. Put on sun block, idiot.”
So I started using sun block much more consistently, and things had been progressing quite well. Until last week, when one of my wife’s friends forwarded her a link via facebook about how sun block is terrible for your skin, and is actually more harmful than actual sun exposure.
In a nutshell, the link states that the FDA doesn’t allow natural sun block to be classified as such, so as to generate more profits for “chemical companies.” Also, the chemicals in almost all sun tan lotions cause cancer.
It sounded a little bit conspiracy-theoryesque, but I’m not naïve enough—I watch documentaries!—to think it’s not at least partly true. My wife was more convinced of the completeness of this information, which led to this conversation over the weekend:
Me: I am going to go outside.
Me: What should I do?
Wife: What are you talking about?
Me: Should I put lotion on?
Wife: NO! Are you crazy?! Didn’t you read the report?!
Me: Okay, so … should I burn?
Wife: No! Just go underneath a tree or something.
I ended up staying inside.
This all reminded me of the butter versus margarine battle from my youth (I knew I led with that for a reason). And it’s not just diary products and sun block—it seems like we’re provided contradicting information about everything, and part of that information is about how we shouldn’t even trust those giving us that information. It’s enough to make a man see red, and be red.
It leaves me torn. On one hand, I don’t want to fall into that category of, “When I was a kid, we ate raw bacon and used lead paint and ate lead paint and breathed asbestos and played outside and didn’t have the Internet and also we didn’t need seatbelts and we turned out fine! Well, except for Bob, and a few others, who are dead.” I also don’t want to go crazy worrying about what’s harmful, and what’s not, and what is again. I’m too busy doing stuff to think about how the stuff I am doing is wrong and harmful.
So what’s my solution? Like a point, I don’t really have one. I guess I just have to take it one battle at a time. For example, I have decided to start protecting myself in the sun with a combination of lotion and butter spray. They say that two wrongs don’t make a right, but I have heard that is wrong.