social media

Social craze: think about sunburn over the summer

Written by elliegrounds

A typical Australian August involves a lot of rejoicing in the fact that we can finally, after two months of unbearable (read: extremely mild) winter temperatures, feel the summer months o

A typical Australian August involves a lot of rejoicing in the fact that we can finally, after two months of unbearable (read: extremely mild) winter temperatures, feel the summer months on the horizon. As we crawl closer to spring, thoughts start to circulate about how we will spend our hot summer months, with long days spent lounging on the beach and frolicking in the ocean taking up the majority of our daydreams. With summer, comes sun. And with sun, comes sunburn.

Making the rounds on social media over the past few days has been US-based photographer Thomas Leveritt’s video, ‘How The Sun Sees You’.

The video

The three-minute video, filmed in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, shows people with seemingly healthy skin seeing what their faces look like under ultraviolet light, and the results are seriously concerning. Despite no visible signs of damage on the surface, the UV rays highlight just how much stress and deterioration our skin endures due to lack of sun safe protection – it truly is what’s on the inside that counts.   

The video then explains that glass blocks UV rays, so when people put on sunglasses they show up as black on the camera. Leveritt then asks the volunteers to apply sunscreen to their faces, which (surprise, surprise) shows up black too.

Perhaps the most powerful aspect of the video is the shocked expression that is mirrored on each and every single one of the participant’s faces. These people have fair, unblemished skin – just like me. They think they look after their skin well and haven’t caused any damage to it – just like me. In reality, their skin has already been severely harmed by sun exposure – just… like… me?

Warning the public

Although not intended to be a direct advertisement for sunscreen, Leveritt hopes his video will encourage people “to put on some damn sunscreen already”. With over 8 million views in less than a week, it seems that Leveritt’s wishes may come true – the video is well on its way to inadvertently becoming a worldwide campaign advocating the use of sun protection. Gone are the days of the traditional marketing campaigns, such as Australia’s highly successful 1981 call to arms to “Slip on a t-shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat”. It’s all about the social media share these days, and it’s refreshing to see a video that constructively addresses a global issue.

Skin cancer

According to the World Health Organisation, skin cancer rates have risen dramatically over the past decade. The statistics are frightening: one in every three cancers diagnosed worldwide is a skin cancer, one in every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, two in every three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70, and an average of seven people die in the UK each day due to the disease.

Think about it

So, whether you’re a northern hemisphere resident savouring the last month of summer or a southern hemisphere local anticipating the warmer months, remember the shocked expressions on the faces of the people in the Leveritt’s video. Imagine that’s you, but rather than strolling through a park you’re sitting in a doctor’s office having been delivered the terrible news that is a skin cancer diagnosis. Slop on some sunscreen before you leave home. The choice is simple: seconds out of your day, or years off your life.

What do you think of this week's social craze? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: Nick Page / Flickr