At the beach or pool, we’re more than eager to dress our kids in rashguards and swim shirts to protect them from the sun’s harmful rays. But when it comes to protecting our own skin, we’re more apt to hope our sunscreen won’t wash off than to wear anything with sleeves. Why is this? Is it the desire to feel sexy? Social pressure? Habit? Difficulty finding sun-protective swimwear that is fashionable and has a flattering fit?
Ever since Ursula Andress emerged from the ocean wearing a white bikini in the 1962 James Bond film, Dr. No, popular culture has embraced the bikini as the ideal, equating skimpy swimwear with sex appeal. The notion is perpetuated each month with a fresh crop of airbrushed, bikini-clad models smiling from the covers of magazines. To be beautiful and sexy, pop culture seems to say, you have bare some skin. Never mind that all the bare skin gets exposed to the sun, which can lead to sunburns, premature wrinkling, and the risk of skin cancer.
While almost all of us would agree that sunburns are not sexy, a number of us still fall back to the same types of swimsuits we’ve been wearing since we were teenagers. Part of it may be availability of choice. Stores that sell swimsuits display racks and racks lined with colorful bikinis and tankinis. One-piece suits are often hidden in a back corner, while rashguards are hard to find unless you’re shopping at a women-centric sports store or a surf shop. Some of that is changing with the online shopping options available from retailers like Girls4Sport, but how pervasive the change will be will depend upon women’s choices in weighing what constitutes “sexy” verses the need to protect their skin.
The history of women’s swimwear fashions is relatively short and has witnessed some dramatic shifts in the last 100 years. Is it possible that the swim fashion pendulum will ever swing away from the bikini?
Girls4Sport would love to have its readers weigh in on this topic. What type of swimwear do you choose to wear and why? How do you protect your skin? If you only wear traditional swimsuits like bikinis, what would it take to for you to consider more sun-protective types of swim wear?