It’s Time to Show Some Skin to Save Some Skin — Here’s How You Can Help Fight Skin Cancer

It's time to strip.

Susan Mutesi for Skin Check Champions

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

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? 

Courtney Mangan survived cancer after her stage 4 melanoma was identified during a skin check. Image credit: Skin Check Champions

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.

“Byron Baes” Sasia & Dave for Strip Off For Skin Cancer Image credit: Skin Check Champions

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, 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.”

This article originally appeared on Popsugar Australia.

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The Best New Bookstores in LA are Curated, Specific, and Personal

Discover a new favorite book, join a book club, and maybe even do some karaoke at the new wave of LA bookshops.

Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

A couple of years ago, the legendary Powell’s Books in Portland released a perfume designed to evoke the smell of a bookstore. The scent has notes of wood, violet, and the lovely and unusually precise word biblichor, the particular aroma of old books. The reality of the scent is what it is-mostly sweet and floral-but more important is the imagery it conjures. The best bookstores are both cozy and mysterious, familiar and surprising, with endless potential for discovery.

Los Angeles has a wealth of independent book sellers, including beloved legacy shops like The Last Bookstore, The Iliad, and Chevalier’s. But a new wave of bookstores has been growing over the last few years, shops that eschew the traditional one-of-everything mindset to focus on specificity, curation, and point of view. There are bookstores with themes, bookstores that double as event spaces, bookstores that reflect their neighbourhoods, bookstores that take inspiration from a specific person-whether that’s the shop owner, a historical figure, or a little bit of both-and so many more.

Like the niche-ification of the internet and the culture at large, these new and new-ish bookstores provide a space to discover books, ideas, and perspectives led by an expert, the kind of things that you may never have found on your own. They can also be a safe harbour for pure nerdiness, a place to dive deep into your favourite category or cause. To help you on your way, we’ve put together a list of some of the best new bookstores in LA, with a focus on curated shops with their own specific perspectives.

Photo courtesy of Octavia's Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf

Octavia’s Bookshelf

Pasadena is a famously book-friendly city, with bookstore royalty in the form of legendary Vroman’s and its own literary alliance. Now it has one of the most exciting new bookstores too. Octavia’s Bookshelf is owner Nikki High’s tribute to the science fiction master Octavia E. Butler, who was a Pasadena native herself. The name of the shop provides a clue into High’s inspiration, titles she imagines Butler would have had on her shelves, with a focus on BIPOC authors. The storefront is small, but the collection is impeccably curated and the space is cozy and welcoming for readers of all backgrounds.

Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop

North Figueroa Bookshop

Highland Park
Vertical integration can be a beautiful thing, especially when it allows independent creators more control over their products. The new North Figueroa Bookshop is a shining example of the concept, a storefront built on a collaboration between two publishers, Rare Bird and Unnamed Press. North Fig features titles from those presses, of course, including lots of striking literary fiction and memoir, but it also features a curated collection of other books. They’ve made it a point of emphasis to serve the needs of the local Highland Park, Glassell Park, Cypress Park, and Eagle Rock community-there’s lots of fiction from fellow independent publishers, other general interest titles with a focus on California history and literature, and plenty of Spanish-language books.

Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

Zibby’s Bookshop

Santa Monica
Speaking of vertical integration, there’s another new combined publisher and bookstore on the other side of town. Zibby’s Bookshop is the brainchild of Zibby Owens, Sherri Puzey, and Diana Tramontano, and it’s the physical home of Zibby Books, a literary press that releases one featured book a month. That system is designed so that each book gets the full attention and resources of the press. Owens is an author, podcaster, and book-fluencer, and she has become something of a lit-world mogul with a magazine, podcast network, event business, and an education platform too. The shop has a unique sorting system, built around a feeling for each book-in store many of the shelves are labelled by interest or personality type, like “For the foodie,” or “For the pop culture lover.” On their webshop, you can browse for books that make you cry, escape, laugh, lust, or tremble. There are recommendations from Owens and the staff, sections for local authors, family dramas, and books that have just been optioned. If this all seems a little overwhelming, you should probably avoid the section dedicated to books that make you anxious.

The Salt Eaters Bookshop

Inglewood native Asha Grant opened The Salt Eaters Bookshop in 2021 with a mission in mind-to centre stories with protagonists who are Black girls, women, femme, and/or gender-nonconforming people. Over the last year and change that it’s been open, it has also become a community hub, a place for Inglewood locals and people from across town to drop in, to see what’s new and to discover incredible works in the Black feminist tradition. They also host regular events like readings, discussions, and parties.

Lost Books

Thankfully, legendary downtown bookshop The Last Bookstore’s name is hyperbole, and owners Josh and Jenna Spencer have even gone so far as to open a second shop, Lost Books in Montrose. Instead of the technicolour whimsy of the book tunnel at The Last Bookstore, Lost Books has a tunnel of plants that welcomes you into the shop, which opened in the summer of 2021. They sell those plants in addition to books, and coffee and vinyl too, which makes Lost Books a lovely destination and a fun little surprise in the quaint foothill town just off the 2 freeway.

Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe

Stories Books & Cafe

Echo Park
Ok, this one is fudging the criteria a little-Stories has been open for almost 15 years. But over those years the shop has become a pillar of Echo Park community life, hosting readings, discussions, and events, and their cafe tables function as a de facto office for about half of the neighbourhood on any given afternoon. After the tragic recent passing of co-owner and Echo Park fixture Alex Maslansky it seemed like the shop’s future was in doubt, but thankfully after a brief hiatus co-owner and co-founder Claudia Colodro and the staff were able to band together to reopen and keep the beloved cafe and bookstore going strong.

Page Against the Machine

Long Beach
The name alone makes it clear what you’re getting at Page Against the Machine-revolutionary progressive books, with a collection centred on activist literature, socially conscious writing, and a whole lot of political history. The shop itself is small but the ideas are grand, with fiction by writers like Richard Wright, Colson Whitehead, and Albert Camus next to zines about gentrification and compendia of mushroom varieties. They also host regular readings and discussions.

Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte

Re/Arte Centro Literario

Boyle Heights
Boyle Heights has its own small but mighty combined bookstore, art gallery, gathering space, and small press in Viva Padilla’s Re/Arte. Padilla is a poet, translator, editor, and curator, and as a South Central LA native and the child of Mexican immigrants, she’s focused on Chicanx and Latinx art, literature, and social criticism. Re/Arte’s collection has a wide range of books, from classic Latin American literature to modern essays and everything in between. Re/Arte is also now the headquarters for sin cesar, a literary journal that publishes poetry, fiction, and essays from Black and Brown writers. There are always community-focused events happening too, from regular open mics and zine workshops to film screenings and more.

The Book Jewel

Most bookshops host events, but few host them with the regularity of The Book Jewel, the two- year-old independent bookstore in Westchester. Their calendar is so full with readings, several different book clubs, signings, and meet and greets that there are sometimes multiple events on the same day. The shop also hosts a ton of family-focused readings, with regular storytime on Sunday mornings often followed by a talk with the author. It’s a great fit for the relatively low-key (but not exactly quiet) suburban neighbourhood, and it’s no coincidence that storytime lines up with the Westchester Farmers Market, which takes place right out front.

Reparations Club

West Adams
Most bookstores lean into coziness, aiming to be a hideaway for some quiet contemplation or maybe a quick sotto voce chat-not so at Reparations Club, the exuberant and stylish concept bookshop and art space on Jefferson. Owner and founder Jazzi McGilbert and her staff have built a beautiful and vibrant shop full of art from Black artists, including books but also records, candles, incense, clothing, and all sorts of fun things to discover. There’s a perfect seating area to sit and hang out for a while, and they host a range of wild and fun events from readings to happy hours, panel discussions to karaoke nights and more.

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Ben Mesirow is a Staff Writer at Thrillist.


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