Earlier this year, Time.com
reported that topless sunbathing was falling out of fashion in France.
This sent a ripple across the blogosphere of people commenting on what
seemed like a sudden shift. Turns out that on further exploration,
this wasn’t really news at all. It’s just that non French people
only recently noticed a change that has been in the works for a long time.
Since the 70’s there was campaigning from feminists, who take most of
the credit for the sexual revolution, to allow topless sunbathing on public
beaches in France. They won partly because they were promoting the
idea of nudity being disconnected from sexual invitation or availability.
It was overly idealistic to expect men to become indifferent to nudity
just because they could be culturally influenced to accept it and take
it in stride though. Even in cultures where nudity is normal, people
are not indifferent to the visible condition of the body. So if you’re
not being viewed as available, you are still being rated for your beauty.
In cultures that are very looks critical, allowing nudity only makes it
easier for people to devalue you for your looks.
This lesson was clear in French culture well over a decade ago, and
young French women are opting to cover up. The ones who are still
bathing topless and dressing immodestly are considered low class, tourists,
or old ladies. Yes, it is the sight of saggy boobs that has done
what moralist protesters and gawking male immigrants could not. Young
French women, horrified at the sight of their mothers’ pendulous, pancake
like, or incongruent surgically enhanced breasts do not want to grow up
to be “that woman” who parades her old titties around the beach.
Nudism/naturism isn’t suffering because the modesty trend. Private
and semi public areas that are nudism friendly don’t lack for freedom loving
individuals who sincerely don’t bother about clothing. These are
considered the proper context in which anyone should feel free to be undressed.
Similar to places in Germany, Finland, and other European countries where
there is “locals only” tourism, the idea is to have safe places.
The only people in them would be people who actually come from the home
culture, or are connected by kinship or friendship.
The modesty trend in France isn’t about religion as much as it is about
context. The general public sphere is not one in which women feel
safe to be nude. Living near one of the fashion capitals of the world
also lends to much thought and discussion of clothing and what styles communicate.
So it’s shouldn’t be surprising that women there would decide to dress
for the role they wish to play in life.
More opinions and posts about the modesty trend: