I don’t remember my Mum ever sunbathing topless when I was a kid. Nor my aunts, nor those much-studied cousins old enough to have breasts. Until we went to France one summer that is. Then suddenly they were all at it.
All shapes and sizes fully out at the beach. No discussion just semi-naked relatives everywhere. I think I was eight and I’m sure I stared quite a lot before settling in to the normality, this was holidaying in France.
I also remember a lot staring, albeit more sideways and subtle, when I went to the south of France with some guy pals from university. They never did seem to settle into the normality of it all.
Only 2% of under 35 year old women say they’d sunbathe topless
I’m British and shy, so toplessness never occurred to me. Though while I’ve never cared about tan lines, I’ve skinny dipped at night enough to know it feels pretty nice to swim sans swimsuit. I can see why French women like it. Or should that be liked it?
As according to Surf Europe (“A French symbol is dying…” they wail), Elle, The Guardian and more, this quintessentially French behaviour is under attack with only 2% of under 35 year old women saying they’d sunbathe topless, according to a study quoted in The Guardian piece.
That’s quite a shift. We asked six women who live in France (well one has moved back to London now but she lived there a good while…) why they think fewer French women are going topless and whether they still shun bikini tops at the beach themselves.
Their answers were cool, thoughtful and funny. One of our contributors nearly got fined in the US for sunbathing topless, another “loves the freedom of that” on French beaches.
Others cited skin cancer fears, money spent on bikinis and “the bombardment of perfect images of women in the media” as reasons why they now cover up.
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