Choose You Blog
Slip, Slop, Slap is a mantra I quickly learned when my family moved to Australia when our son was two years old. It was on television ads, at the pharmacy counters, and recited by my son’s teachers at preschool. Before too long, it became our family’s mantra too.
Most of us equate Australia with glorious sunshine and beautiful beaches and it is! Australians pursue a casual, outdoor lifestyle yet, it is also a country where 1,700 Australians die each year from skin cancer, a cancer completely preventable by smart sun behavior.
What is Slip, Slop, Slap?
SLIP on protective clothing. This means wearing cool and loose-fitting clothes that cover the areas of your skin most likely to be burned.
SLOP on some sunscreen. Use lots of it, particularly on your face and hands. 30 SPF is recommended.
SLAP on a hat. This protects your sensitive scalp and ears from burning.
The saying became so ingrained in my mind and that of my husband and son that it became a checklist prior to leaving the house to go swimming, boating or picnicking. What made it easier to accept was the constant reinforcement, particularly at school. At the doorway of every classroom is a 2 liter jug of sunscreen. As the kids walked out the door for recess, they put it on their face and hands. Additionally, a teacher would stand at the doorway and anyone who forgot their hat, could not play outside.
This was completely opposite from my 1970s childhood when my well-meaning grandma put baby oil on my nose to protect it from the sun. We didn’t know then that she was actually baking my nose. I was so fair skinned, I would get angry when my olive-skinned best friend would get this golden tan from sunbathing in an afternoon. I would only turn into a lobster, then blister, peel and subject myself to the ritual again after the pain memory faded enough for me to go back outside.
Thankfully, by the time I was in my 30s, and my son arrived on the scene, I was starting to use a sunscreen and becoming “sun smart” in my habits. We could learn a lot by mirroring the guidelines published by the Cancer Council of Australia in their promotional video.
Since our Australian experience, two more guidelines have been added to the sunsmart campaign:
- SEEK some shade by getting out of the sun when your skin starts to get hot.
- SLIDE on some sunnies. Using sunglasses protects your eyes from sun damage.
My family and I choose sun protection. Won’t you SLIP, SLOP, SLAP, SEEK AND SLIDE next time you go outdoors?
About Fran: Fran Kenneley Stephenson is a public relations practitioner, writer and teacher in San Antonio, TX.