Kid’s Sun Safe Swimwear: Exposure to sexism really is bad for your health

“Exposing your child to too much sun may increase their risk of skin cancer later in life.” NHS

Click to hear the “Slip Slop Slap Song” by Sun Safe Nurseries!

Its that time of year again when we dig out or dig deep to buy sun hats, sun lotion, swim suits, shorts, t-shirts and sandals – all in the name of celebrating the glory that is British Summertime. And why not! After a long winter inside, its time to go out, go play, splash, dust off last years bucket and spade and head down to the nearest beach. I am THERE.

  • New swimsuits (last years too small)
  • New Factor 50 Sunscreen (last years too crusty)
  • HATS. Hats for all… (begins sewing)
  • Shorts and T-Shirts (standard)
  • Sandals (last years and one new pair for the 3 year old)
  • All-in-one Sun-suit for beach, sand and water play (bit of a luxury, but hey, we’re parents – we’re told every day that buying the RIGHT things is part of our duty. We buy, therefore we parent)

School swimsuit shopping thus far a pain, with “sorry, the plain, sturdy swimsuits are out of stock!” and being directed to the frilly tropical tankini’s and wondering why anyone would want their child to look like a cocktail.

We know there are big differences in the design and marketing of childrenswear between girls and boys ranges, but does this include retailers annual dive into Sun Safety sales? The first place I check:

Screenshot_2016-05-22-12-15-10 Screenshot_2016-05-22-12-15-06

Followed by:



(Websites, May 22nd 2016)

Marks and Spencer’s Swimwear: Girls 61 items, boys 48 items and yet…

Boys: 11 “Sun safe” suits (1-7 and 5-14) plus 9 rash vests

Girls: 3 “Sun safe” suits (1-7 only – pictured below) plus 2 rash vests

Despite there being more Swimwear options “for girls”, there are LESS “Sun Safe” options. Why is that? Have I missed something here? Does being a girl mean you are not susceptible to the dangers of sun exposure?

1-7 year old’s catered for, but of course only if your son only likes Thomas/Blue and your girl Butterflies/Pink.

thomas mand s 1-7 1-7 mark s and spencer fun n sun

NEXT Swimwear: Girls 129 items, Boys 140 items

Boys: 44 “Sun safe” options including rash vests

Girls: 23 “Sun safe” options including rash vests

Plus if your kids want to splash about in Disney Pixar NEMO swimwear, tough luck girls, your skin isn’t as important as male fans (yes, the hat is “for boys” only too)

nemo next nemo boys sun safe tuis sun safe boys nemo next

George at Asda: Girls 52 swimwear options, Boys 41

Boys: 6 “Sun safe” suit options

Girls: Only 2 “Sun safe” suit options – despite there being a bigger swimwear selection

Plus check out the leg length protection below… (Star Wars for boys and Frozen for girls, did you see that coming?)

star wars asda swim shorts boys asda frozen swimsuit

Alternatively, George at Asda sell a “Boy-leg” school swimsuit for girls – yes, BOY LEG! I am not making this up…

school asda boy leg

Boden: Girls 46 swimwear options, Boys 24

Boys: 7 rash tops/bottoms (very similar, if not identical to those offered girls)

Girls: 7 rash tops/bottoms (3/4 sleeves and longer shorts, best range yet)

Also, take a look and stare in wonder… Dinosaurs in a girls range, and flowers in a boys 🙂 (so… now we can finally acknowledge children *can* like the same things, we can do away with the pesky gender marketing altogether? Yes?)

boden rash vest 3-4 sleeve boden boys shorts

Matalan: Girls 30 swimwear items, Boys 29 

Boys: 8 “Surf suits” – similar styles to girls options, but BLUE (ok if all boys like blue*)

Girls: 6 “Surf suits” …. and all PINK! (ok if all girls like pink*)

(*they don’t.)

matalan matalan mi matalan f matalan d matalan ar matalan 3

Below is some really important Sun Smart advice from the Teenage Cancer Trust, but retailers please:

Create a single swimwear destination within your children’s sections, with search options/placement by type and size. Consider many girls might want to wear swim-shorts with a rash vest, or a boy may love the Frozen tutu swimsuit pictured above. Its about choice, including sleeve/arm length. Make Sun Safety an important part of your Summer swimwear campaign – and mean it!

Please tweet your swimwear shopping antics and concerns to @letclothesbe

Please CC us, to any emails you send retailers, we’re happy to lend your feedback some support!


Advice from Teenage Cancer Trust:

  • Slap on SPF 30 sunscreen – Apply generous amounts of water resistant sunscreen of at least SPF30 and above, to clean, dry skin before going out in the sun. Make sure you re-apply regularly throughout the day.
  • Wear a hat – Whether it’s a stylish fedora, a trilby or a baseball cap, all can help to keep the heat off your head, face, neck and ears.
  • Stay in the shade between 11am-3pm –  When the sun’s rays are strongest between 11am-3pm, find a shady spot to avoid the burn.
  • Protect your eyes – Slip on those sunglasses to make sure your eyes are protected from the strong rays of the sun.
  • Cover up – Throw on a long sleeved shirt or top that ideally has a collar and a sarong or long shorts to protect your skin.

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