Sun Damage

sun damage

“I wonder how long I will have to sit out here?”

Ten minutes before I had sprayed the entire contents of a bottle on my hair
and then quickly hidden the bottle in the garbage. I hadn’t taken the time
to read the directions very thoroughly.

The smell was horrible!

The spray was supposed to lighten my hair with the help of the sunlight. I
figured I would just stay out there as long as I could to make sure the
spray did its work.

I thought back to a few days ago when my dad had sent me to the grocery
store. I had impulsively added the bottle to the cart, and so far I hadn’t
allowed myself to feel guilty about it.

“A teenage girl needs some beauty supplies once in a while, don’t they?
It’s so hard to ask a dad about things like that. If I was with Mom she
probably would’ve sniffed the bottle out right away and put an end to

It was summer break and my brother and I always spent it with our dad. My
brother was spending the day with our cousin and Dad was doing business in
town. I finally had the day to myself and it was the perfect opportunity
for a beauty treatment.

I could just imagine how pretty my hair was going to be—golden blonde!

“School is only a few weeks away and the boys will surely take notice of my
new hair color.”

I had always been self-conscious; I was so clumsy and skinny with big feet.
I finally had braces to fix my overbite, but then lately my skin had
started breaking out with pimples–being a blonde will surely make up for
all of it! My normal hair color, a brownish auburn, was so boring.

I turned over to make sure the back of my hair got some sunlight as well. I
closed my eyes and tried to ignore the smell. The skin close to my hairline
was burning where the solution had dripped. I did my best to wipe it off.

“Wow, being beautiful is painful!”

I lay out there for close to another hour. The skin on the backs of my arms
and legs felt sunburned and there were countless little biting bugs taking
advantage of my sweaty condition.

“That’s it! I’m going inside to shower.”

I hoped I had stayed out there long enough to turn myself into a blonde. I
couldn’t wait to see the result!

The shower was temporarily soothing to my sunburned and bug-bitten skin,
but as I dried off my hairline started burning again. I looked in the
mirror and was shocked at how sunburned I was. My hairline was especially

I couldn’t see a difference in my hair while it was wet so I began to blow
dry it. The hot air just magnified my discomfort. My skin felt like it was
shriveling from lack of moisture.

My hair also had a dry and brittle feel to it, but I was excited to see a
change in color. It was definitely lighter.

“A little more orange than blonde, though.” I was trying to stay optimistic
and ignore the rising panic.

I was hoping the spray would’ve bleached out the auburn tint to my hair but
it seemed to have only magnified it!

“I look like a new PENNY!”

Feelings of complete panic and shame swept over me, “How could I have been
so foolish?! I have ruined my hair!”

I took gobs of leave-in conditioner and slathered my hair with it—hoping to
restore the lost moisture.

“Maybe Dad and Jake won’t notice. I’ll just go to bed early and give my
hair and skin a chance to recover.”

I heard them coming in and jumped into bed.

“Kate? What is that smell? Where are you?” I heard my dad approaching my

“I’m in here, Dad. I don’t feel very well. I think I’ll try to sleep.”

He opened the door and I quickly pulled the blanket over my head.

“Have you been throwing up? That smell…”

“No, I just got too much sun.”

“Oh. Do you need anything?”

“No, thank you. Sleep should help.”

“Okay, good night. I love you.”

“Love you, too.” I felt a knot form in my throat and a few tears gathered
in my tightly clenched eyes.

I always make a mess of things! Mom has told me that I was prone to
acting in haste. Instead of seeking wise counsel I rush to do things my
own way. When am I ever going to learn?

I cried myself to sleep and welcomed the escape from the horrid smell and
my hot, itchy skin.

The feelings of shame returned as soon as I got my bearings in the morning.
My dad woke us early as usual to do our chores.

“Rise and shine!”

Oh, I’m shining alright.

I shuffled out to the kitchen where he was dishing up my breakfast.

My brother looked at me and let out a choking noise.

“What happened?”

“I got too much sun and the bugs were biting me.”

That was the truth? Wasn’t it?

My dad gave me a worried glance, but as usual, he was a man of few words.

My brother kept laughing into his breakfast but nothing else was said about

I braided my hair and put a ball cap on. I kept it that way as much as
possible for the remainder of the summer and tried to forget about the
whole thing.

But then, it was time to go back to my mom’s.

“What happened to your hair?!” Mom had a look of complete horror on her
face as soon as she saw me. She touched my hair like it might bite her.

It was more like straw than hair. I felt like a scare-crow with copper
colored straw for hair.

I burst out crying and told her the whole story.

“It sounds like you have learned your lesson already. We go to the beauty
salon and see what they can do with your hair before school starts.”

Any hope I had quickly gave way to more shame and disappointment. The look
on the lady’s face at the beauty salon was one of consternation. It
literally took her an hour to comb through the dry tangles.

“I have never seen anything like this,” She said, shaking her head.

I let loose the tears that I had been holding back. Her yanking on my hair
was so painful.

In the end, all she could do was cut off about four inches of hair and
recommend a good conditioner.

“You will just have to let it grow out.”

The night before school I lay in bed and gave myself a long lecture. I
would have to just stand tall and ignore what people might say or think. I
was already used to not fitting in–but then again, we all were in the
awkward teenage years together. I wasn’t the only one going through a weird
stage. I’ll just make an effort to be friendly to someone who looks left
out. I’ll try not to think about my hair, teeth, feet—I’ll smile and focus
on being kind.

Instead of thinking of myself as a shiny penny, I’ll think of myself as a
light for the Lord!

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Sun Damage

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