Scarred by Sunburned Summers: Why the season is overrated

Summer is nearly here, and you know what that means: holidays, cocktails on the beach, showing off that “summer body” and weeks of sunshine. But for me, as someone who has pale skin, sadly this not only means endless sunburns, but also a great deal of bad luck of which I now unfortunately associate with the season of summer.

For me, getting sunburnt is never subtle nor discrete. I’ll always end up with marks in obscure places, like a series of tiny patches that you might have missed with sun cream. A few days ago, exactly this happened, except I wasn’t wearing sun cream (after all it is springtime in England). Yet I was wrong, as I did get burnt on the face.

Despite my battle with the UK sun, I do still enjoy sunbathing with a cold drink nonetheless, as I did in the summer of August 2018. I went abroad with my family for the first time to Dalyan, Turkey and the heat combined with the intensity of the sunlight was on a whole different level. It was so hot that you spent most of the day in the swimming pool, which meant that my pale skin required a smothering of water-resistant SPF 50. Despite my efforts, I got sunburnt on the first day! 

Only a few days later, we went to a beautiful sandy beach unlike the British beaches I am familiar with. We parked ourselves on our sun loungers and set up our parasols, and by default I was slathered in sun cream. It was blissful; with some music playing and an iced drink, we stayed for hours on end. When it was time to leave, my family suddenly noticed my left leg was red all the way down to my foot. I got sunburnt on one leg! It was as red as a lobster, and my foot had puffed up like a balloon (my sandals still won’t go back to their normal size to this day). 

It was such a painful experience, and itchy too. Unable to walk, I managed to shuffle to the pharmacy, hoping to get aloe vera or something to help soothe the burning. Walking through the door, it was so embarrassing. I didn’t even need to say anything as the pharmacist looked down at my leg, instantly knowing why I was there. Fortunately I was able to receive some treatment, which thankfully did help my recovery.

With the sunburn nearly fading, a little later on our summer holiday we all went out for dinner.  The alleyway leading us to the restaurant was cool and breezy: for a moment it really felt like a dream. That’s when I felt something on my upper-back, and casually assuming it was the breeze in my hair, I thought nothing of it. In that instant, my back arched and I screamed like a baby… I got stung by a bee! By a stroke of luck I was unknowingly prepared, as every day since the holiday began I was taking an antihistamine. Alas, that would be the only good luck I would receive.

It is true that bad luck comes in threes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t done yet. In Turkey, it is common to see a lot of cats and dogs everywhere you go, and they follow you around even in the outdoor restaurants where we chose to eat that evening. Again, it was most serene looking, with a water feature draped in tree vines and a beautiful restaurant garden. While my family was still busy laughing at my expense, a cat was weaving in and around our feet and the table legs. It was harmless, or at least we thought, until the cat started spraying all up my leg! At first I thought it was the waterfall, so I used my hand to wipe my leg, but when I noticed the cat, I immediately freaked out. I touched it! I jumped out of my seat and went to the toilets to scrub my leg to get rid of the odour, and upon my return the restaurant staff were trying to shoo-away the cats. Yet another unfortunate event to add to my ever-growing list.

The summer of 2018 has definitely scarred me, but at least for now, all I have to deal with is the repetitive stories that my parents tell and will continue to for the rest of my life. But if you, like me, are prone to embarrassment, my advice would be just to embrace it. 

You can look at it this way. If you have a skin type that easily burns, then you have a choice: you can stay inside and avoid the sunlight at all costs, removing yourself from the situation in the first place. On the other hand, you can choose to take the risk of burning, and it is likely you will, but still get out there and enjoy those moments that you would have missed out on (always remembering to wear a high SPF sun cream!). 

Summer tends to suck for me sometimes, but it’s still my favourite time of the year. The air is fresher, the holidays are longer, the clothes are better. But most importantly, you get to live those memorable moments that will last forever. 

Published by meganrosemccluskey21

De Montfort University student studying Journalism and Film

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