I bought a bikini top. It’s red, has two triangles to cover my important parts and strings to tie around my neck and back. At 42 years old, this seems a little, well, immodest at best, I know.
But neither you nor most anyone else will catch me in it. I did not intend it for public viewing. The tiny bits of fabric and strings, designed to leave as much skin exposed as I dare, are for lounging around in private places where there is full sun. See, even though I understand the risk factors for skin cancer, I enjoy a hearty suntan and always have.
But there’s a reason for my bronzing that goes beyond looks. Honestly, a wrinkly, too-tan suntan on an old lady like me is, in my opinion, just a little tacky anyway — especially if she’s wearing a too-tiny, red bikini top.
I grew up with and still have a skin condition called psoriasis. It’s an autoimmune disease, not contagious, and makes for ugly plaques of extra skin on my body. In the 35-plus years I’ve had it, my psoriasis has had its ups and downs. It was so bad in the 1980s I was hospitalized for intensive treatment to calm it.
For a week on a pediatric unit in a university hospital in Michigan I lathered up in thick lotions, wore a plastic “sauna suit” and was escorted down the hall for what really made the difference — phototherapy.
“Phototherapy” is a fancy way to say “suntanning.”
From the time I was a mere 5 years old, I have toasted under every kind of sunlamp, stood in numerous light boxes and wore as few clothes as I dared in my backyard — nature’s “light box,” I guess — during the heat of the day, all with doctors’ endorsements.