I am a parish minister currently serving the Eliot Church of Natick MA. Eliot Church is a Community Church affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. Any statements made and postions held in "Unity," however, are solely mine(of course, they may be used with appropriate atribution). Therefore if you disagree, please do not blame the church!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hats for Men!

My friend PeaceBang has two blogs. One, of course, is "PeaceBang" itself. The other is Beauty Tips For Ministers, which will now have its own permanent location in my place of links. Recently she has posted about hats (Pope Benedict's in particular). This has gotten me thinking about something that has (in all truth) occupied some of my idle-thought time over the years. That is the sad state of the "Man-Hat".

I first encountered this problem while on internship at the Unitarian Church of Grosse Pointe (yes, that Grosse Pointe). There I met a person who had rehabilitated his grandfather's bowler and wore it all fall and winter to church and to other places where a baseball cap would be just plain inappropriate. The thing is, he looked good! Up to that point, I had thought of men's hats (not caps here, but hats) as either the purview of people way too cool for the rest of us (musicians, college kids, etc) or candidates for president in their local Dungeons and Dragons club (I never made president, OK?). This man, however, was inspirational. He didn't become a "character". He kept his identity and struck a small blow for quality head gear.

This is more than a shallow fashion issue, I might add. Winters are cold, heads need to be kept warm even at church or in business meetings. We are increasingly aware of the risk of skin cancer yet most men (many of them bald) go unprotected or underdressed to work.

Briefly I tried to interest some of my friends in this issue. I recieved some suggestions but no real solutions. What does a no-longer-very-young professional male (yes clergy, but anyone who sometimes has to where a blazer or suit) put on their head? What will they feel comfortable wearing? My supervisor wore a fedora. He looked good, but they aren't for everyone. I find it strange with all we now know about the sun's rays that the baseball cap is the only acceptable choice for most Americans. Anyway, if anyone has something to contribute to this discussion, let me know, or better yet, drop PeaceBang a line...

I leave you with these thoughts from the Center for Disease Control (FAQs accessed here)

Get a Hat
Q: Will a hat help protect my skin? Are there recommended styles for the best protection?

A: Hats can help shield your skin from the sun's UV rays. Choose a hat that provides shade for all of your head and neck. 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.

If you choose to wear a baseball cap, you should also protect your ears and the back of your neck by wearing clothing that covers those areas, using sunscreen with at least SPF 15, or by staying in the shade.

Q: For the best protection, what material should I look for in a hat?

A: A tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, works best to protect your skin from UV rays. When possible, avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through.

Q: Does the color of my hat matter?

A: The amount of shade offered by a particular hat appears to be its most important prevention characteristic. If a darker hat is an option, though, it may offer even more UV protection.