May is Melanoma Awareness Month. In the spirit of prevention, I'm sharing a video story I had the privilege of doing with friends Frank Heitker, and Andrea Smith Heitker. Andrea died April 9th.
Like a lot of young women, she spent long hours in the sun -- trying to get the bronzed skin our culture currently holds up as a beauty standard for light-skinned women and men. Ultimately, this led to a diagnosis of melanoma in her mid thirties, and a painful 8-year battle with cancer.
She empowered herself through the challenge. Recognizing the need for a strong counter-culture message to young light-skinned women, she created MelanomaGirl. The mission is to help folks realize the risk of exposure to sun and tanning beds. The message is intentionally playful, so it is remembered and shared.
Andrea's spirit inspired everyone around her. She met adversity with strength, grace, and creativity. Let's help her message live.
So get happy with the skin you're in folks, whatever shade of beautiful you are. Let's end ridiculous beauty standards telling us to be lighter or darker. Human beauty is everywhere. And it has nothing to do with skin.