Keep Your Bonnet On!
From the Internet archives I beckoned a few 19th century women to deliver an important message to their 21st century sisters. Before I divulge their advice, can you guess what the four women in these images have in common?
Ready for the answers?
- They are all outdoors
- They are all working
- They are all wearing hats or sunbonnets
The humble sunbonnet, in all it’s imaginative incarnations, is a firmly established article of women’s attire. And for good reason. Beyond the practical aspects of shading their eyes and keeping them cooler, our foremothers wore bonnets to keep the sun from ruining their skin. Today we know that harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can cause eye problems, wrinkles, skin spots and cancer. (Medline). Weather reports provide daily UV Index numbers that help us better plan and prepare for sunny outings.
In addition to monitoring the UV index, sun safety includes not tanning or burning; using sunscreen; staying in the shade; using extra caution around water, snow and sand; and wearing protective clothing - including a good hat!
When choosing a hat, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends:
For the most protection, wear a hat with a brim all the way around that shades your face, ears, and the back of your neck. A tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, works best to protect your skin from UV rays. Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through. A darker hat may offer more UV protection.
If you wear a baseball cap, you should also protect your ears and the back of your neck by wearing clothing that covers those areas, using a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15, or by staying in the shade.
I shopped around for a hat that met the CDC recommendations and chose the Tuga Sol Wide-Brim Sun Hat. There are a lot of similar hats, but this one had all the features I was looking for at a price I didn’t mind paying. From the seven color options I chose cranberry. Have a look at the features:
After a couple of test runs I made a slight modification. The adjustable chin strap is removable via plastic hooks that fasten just below the brim of the hat. For many people this is probably desirable, but with my glasses and earbuds, it got pretty crowded around my ears. I decided that I didn't need the chin strap to be removable, so I cut off the hooks and stitched together the ends. It's an easy modification; I used a sewing machine but it's just as easy to do by hand. The following images demonstrate the steps.
I’ve worn this hat on several sunny walks and runs, and it’s definitely a keeper. It ticks off all the criteria on the CDC list, plus two bonus features — the sweat band works really well, and the hidden pocket on the inside of the back flap is perfect for stashing cash for emergencies (like the ice cream truck).
While it's unlikely that any of us are sweltering in the hot sun making soap or collecting buffalo chips for fuel, we're out there doing all kinds of other things. Our clever foremothers came up with a lot of creative ways to protect themselves from the sun. I'm pretty sure they would approve of this hat!