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On a European beach…

… you see exposed breasts of various colours, shapes and sizes.  From perfectly toned ones to amorphic sagging what-letter-in-the-alphabet cups.  And that’s just men’s.

About one in five women, by my estimation, goes topless at the beach these days as well.  The Germans are at the forefront of the movement, having long branched out from their communal no-swimsuit-necessary bathhouses.  But I also heard Italian, French and Spanish spoken by topless female beachgoers.

Leering and ogling from behind sunglasses is great entertainment, but in truth, the shapelier the woman is, the less likely she is to go topless.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve noticed quite a few nice bodies in the last several days.  But for each one of those, I’ve seen several of the shapeless whale kind, who insist on exposing their bosoms with not a hint of self-consciousness.  I realize that it would be downright undemocratic to restrict toplessness according to some attractiveness scale, but I can’t help but wonder why the least attractive are often the most uninhibited.

I am also a bit amused with seeing groups of friends that include both topless and more traditional sunbathers.  I figure that keeping the top on, in general, has a lot to do with some ingrained standards of modesty; so, when two couples go to the beach together and only one of the women goes topless, it is not a stretch to surmise that the other gal is more of a prude.  That should make for some curious interpersonal dynamics.  To say nothing of one guy having advantage over the other in terms of checking out each other’s girls.

Other than those observations, I find sunbathing to be an utterly boring activity.

Posted in State of travel


  1. jason

    Hm. Perhaps the “shapeless whale” types figure no one will pay much attention to them, so they feel less inhibited, while the beautiful women know they’ll be ogled and don’t want to call any more attention to themselves then they’ll be getting anyhow?

  2. Jeri

    That’s really odd. I am not exactly shapely – and at 40-something gravity is winning the war – and no way would I be doing that, nor would most of my friends, whether shapely or not. Body self-consciousness is too strongly ingrained in us. Maybe it’s an American thing… we’re such a strangely prudish culture about our bodies.

  3. Ilya

    Jason, that has got to be part of it. Perhaps, even a “to hell with it, I couldn’t care less what others might think of my body” component.

    Jeri, I believe you are right. I have a couple of American acquaintances who provocatively spoke in my presence about wishing to go topless on a beach in Europe, but I do not know anyone who actually had done that. Me, I would be uncomfortable to the point of embarrassment if I were to see a female friend topless on a beach.

    Vince, your short comment can be applied in quite a number of ways towards this post 😛

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