Naturist Resources > Europe

Should you go topless – or not?

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The following articile is so well written.  It is from a writer in an Engish Newspaper.  A female.

Rosie, my 17-year-old, flies to Corfu with her friends this weekend for what I'm sure will be a wild teenage holiday. Will she, though, be sunbathing topless?

"Mum! Are you mad?" she asks. "Absolutely not! I'd never, ever sunbathe without my bikini top on. And before you ask, nor would any of my friends."

Rosie is, in almost any other way you could think of, enjoying a far more liberal adolescence than my own. But when it comes to nudity, she is of a totally different mindset.

When I was a teenager, however, I would think nothing of sunbathing wearing only bikini bottoms. In fact, I think my friends and I would have seen it, back in the early 80s, as almost de rigueur. It felt so good, taking off your top and lying half-naked in the sun on the beach: free, liberating, warm and, hey presto, no bikini-lines. Being on holiday wasn't being on holiday without a bit of topless sunbathing.

Fast-forward a quarter century and yes, I'm still at it. But it's a lot harder these days. First, thanks to the fact that I'm now a mother of four, I'm a lot more likely to be found on a beach in the West Country than in the Med – and it's usually a bit nippy in Devon without a fleece, never mind without a bikini top.

Second, my family – all four daughters, plus their Scottish Presbyterian father – seem to have a deep-seated prudishness. On a holiday to Mallorca just a couple of years ago, I decided to strip off for a midnight swim in the pool – only to have all the girls, and Gary, shriek at me to cover up. And this was in the dark, in the middle of the countryside, with no one else around.

But I assert my right to sunbathing, and swimming, topless. After all, no one bats an eyelid when men wander around resorts without a T-shirt on – and, heaven knows, these days some of them have bigger breasts than most of us. Personally, I think there's quite a strong case for getting over-endowed men to cover up – if you're going for the eww factor, there's plenty of it there.

Women's breasts spend far too much of the year hidden away in often uncomfortable bras. We have to ask ourselves whose agenda it is to get women to keep their breasts covered, and why. My rather uncomfortable hunch is that this is a debate which is driven by the desire of men to keep a part of women's bodies that they (mistakenly) believe is only for them, covered up. And this, it seems to me, is why our society is shot through with all sorts of unhealthy problems about breasts and their raison d'etre.

So, in an age when the young seem to have decided to kowtow to the male agenda and cover up, it seems to me that it's all the more important for we fortysomethings to be flying the flag for feminism. If there's a half-decent sunny day in Devon this year, I think I owe it to the cause to get my breasts out.

Joanna Moorhead

Somehow it doesn't surprise me that now, when barely anybody wears clothes at all, when the Americans have a phrase for drinking in a bar without your top on ("raunch culture"), when nobody has sold a cardigan in Newcastle since they stopped mining coal, that the young people of France have decided it is no longer cool to sunbathe topless.

Sunbathing topless is a French thing, while wandering around entirely naked is a German/Austrian thing. There is no functional difference between the two states of undress – one is not more revealing than the other. Come on, if you cannot guess what is going on under a G-string, then you need to retake your beach Baccalaureat, pal. It's not like, stripped only to the waist, you have more protection from the sun, or you would be better placed to deal with a shark attack.

There is, however, a world of difference in meaning between total nudity and top-arf-only. The first is a statement of hyper-pragmatism, a bullish: "What do you mean, organs of sex? These are just more body parts, waving robustly for their vitamin D." Don't get me wrong, I am no big fan of this kind of nudity either. But in its favour, it lacks vanity. It is all about the fresh air.

Toplessness is not about practicality, it's about glamour. I emphatically don't mean "glamour" as in "glamour model". I mean glamour in the old world sense that one's own judgment is unimpeachable. If one is topless oneself, toplessness is what's required. After all, what kind of a person would stare and point and laugh? An unsophisticated person. Probably an English person.

Of course, it would be way more sophisticated if we English could all take our tops off and pretend that didn't remind us of sex. I'm not saying the French are wrong. I'm just saying that it's a bit of a coincidence that a sartorial (or anti-sartorial) habit – a cultural more, if you will – makes them look sophisticated and gets them an all-over tan at the same time. It's all very convenient.

And while we're on all-over tans, I have never seen the sense of them. OK, let's imagine that you're all-over-tanning for your fellow beachgoer. This would only be noticeable if you were topless in the first place. That's nuts. You might as well shave your head for an all-over head tan.

Yeah, this is all an elaborate excuse; the real reason I deride toplessness is that small matter of what I actually look like. Perhaps it's unsisterly to say so but taking your top off does rather draw attention to your attributes – and they had better be good.

With toplessness, my first and insurmountable objection is a "how do I look?" thing ("better with a top on" is the answer). This isn't a gravity thing. I cannot blame the ravages of time. I had this conversation with myself on my French exchange aged 14, and I think the decision I reached was the right one.

Zoe Williams

Ladies, what do you think? Cast your vote in our poll


Danee, you should be letting the guys vote on this too. :1234


--- Quote from: dmutah on July 25, 2009, 10:15:20 pm ---Danee, you should be letting the guys vote on this too. :1234

--- End quote ---

Oh sure, Mike.  But that was a quote from the article, not my quote.  There is a place for folks to add comments on the newspaper article so feel free to go there and make a comment and give Naturism a plug too!  


Maybe when Rosie gets to Corfu, she'll change her mind. If not, it's her loss.

I'm not sure that toplessness = feminism. Some feminists would say that it perpetuates the emphasis on women's bodies.

My attitude toward toplessness (as opposed to complete nudity) is mixed. It doesn't involve males removing anything they wouldn't normally remove, so it may invite and accommodate males who are interested in naturism only as voyeurs.


--- Quote from: ChristineF on August 03, 2009, 11:41:27 pm ---Toplessness = equality, that's all.....  :4235

--- End quote ---

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