After a buzzkill year of torrential rain, we’re all hanging out for summer and a spot of sunshine. Along with days at the beach, the mental health benefits of vitamin D, and updated, totally candid bikini shots for your grid and Hinge profile, though, summer comes with a high risk of sun damage and skin cancer.
When beauty experts talk about sun damage, we’re often flagging the risk of fine lines, wrinkles and pigmentation. Why? Those factors can be a compelling motivator for behavioural change, and frankly, the beauty industry isn’t in the business of bumming you out. We all know about the dangers of skin cancer after all, don’t we?
Scott Maggs, founder of Skin Check Champions wants to change the conversation happening on social media, because skin cancer is a far more pressing issue than “the early signs of ageing.”
We were all raised “slip, slop, slapping” and every Aussie millennial has experienced the torture of “no hat, no play, no fun today” in primary school. Despite this, national stats around skin cancer fatalities are shocking.
One person every five hours will die from melanoma in Australia, costing our healthcare system over one billion dollars every year.
In fact, Australians are particularly vulnerable, with 2 in 3 Australians likely to experience skin cancer in their lifetime. Skin cancer also affects younger Aussie disproportionally, with those aged 18-45 more likely to experience skin cancer than any other form of cancer. Indeed, Maggs founded Skin Check Champions after losing his close friend Wes Bonny to the disease. Bonny was only 26.
Skin Check Champions and Preventing Skin Cancer Fatalities
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Preventative steps like sun avoidance and regular sunscreen application are important, but the most important step you can take to protect yourself is regular skin checks — something Australians haven’t been doing in recent years.
During a normal year, 81,000 Australians receive treatment for skin cancer, from pre-melanomas zapped off with lasers to advanced melanomas that require emergency treatment.
Of course, we’ve had several profoundly abnormal years recently, and in the process, 81,000 people with cancer have gone unchecked and untreated. Basically? We’ve gotten out of the habit of screening for skin cancer. This is the pressing issue Scott Maggs wants to address.
Maggs founded Skin Check Champions in 2010. It’s an organisation that provides free, accessible and educational skin check clinics in high-risk communities.
Maggs also developed the National Skin Check Program, codenamed Project Check Mate, which is an enterprise that trains nurses to specialise in early detection services.
With the alarming drop off in national skin checks, Maggs wants to take the program nation-wide. But, Maggs needs our support to do this. His aim is to raise $250,000, which, coupled with a $150,000 grant from the University of South Australia, will help scale the enterprise nationally and provide all Australians with free, convenient, early detection services.
To achieve this, Skin Check Champions will be encouraging Australians to “Strip Off for Skin Cancer” during National Skin Cancer Action Week (Nov 21-27).
What Does “Strip Off For Skin Cancer” Involve?
Maggs is quick to specify this is not a call for full-frontal nudity. “You don’t have to be completely starkers,” says Maggs. “The idea is to show some skin to save some skin.”
So while this is not an invitation to violate Instagram’s terms of service, consider this your call to action to blast your feed with thirst traps, altruistically.
The Method Behind the Sexy Madness
You don’t need to be a behavioural scientist to know a saucy pic can bring your evening scroll screeching to a halt.
“[It’s] just enough to stop people scrolling, grab their attention and inspire them to get checked and join the cause,” explains Maggs.
If you’re still shy, feel safe in the knowledge you’ll be stripping down in the good company. Actress Suzan Mutesi, surfer Beau Walker, musician Casey Burgess and Byron Baes‘ stars Saskia Watton and Dave Frim, to name a few, are currently creating “skinspiration” online. They’re joined by individuals with lived experience of skin cancer like Hayley Bourke, Annee Gately and Courtney Mangan.
Mangan, who survived a stage four melanoma that was identified in a routine skin check, is passionate about the cause. “I’m stripping off for a skin check, because it saved my life,” she says, adding, “the more people who sign up, the more lives we’ll save.”
How to Participate in Strip Off For Skin Cancer
To sign up for the program, visit Strip Off For Skin Cancer, book a skin check via the local clinic finder and post some photos and videos showing a little skin. Not only will you be adding much-needed content to your grid while saving lives, but you will also go in the running for prizes that include a deluxe $5,000 trip to Hamilton Island, limited edition “look twice” skin-toned Budgy Smugglers and/or Smuggletts, and a summer skincare pack courtesy of our French pharmacy faves La Roche Posay.
Remember, the campaign doesn’t start until November 21, so you have plenty of time to practice your angles, top up your (fake) tan and “get the shot.”