Topless Sunbathing - Could You, Should You?

By Victoria Harper - 7 November 2014

Contributing Writer

Topless Sunbathing - Could You, Should You?

Breasts – and whether to get them out – is officially a thing - thanks to the Free The Nipple campaign in America, which fights for the right to go topless in public and recently gained popularity after Bruce Willis's daughter, Scout, walked half-naked through New York. So, as summer approaches, will you dare to bear?

‘Blame it on my Germanic upbringing, but as far as I’m concerned as soon as the sun comes out, baring your boobs is about the most natural thing on earth. The feeling of blazing sun on your breasts is one of the biggest joys of summer, reminiscent of lazy days laid out on Mediterranean beaches and a childhood running around in pants.

Of course there are limits – my rules are never to bare in front of my dad or brother (he can’t even bear a slight glimpse of my nipples under a blouse let alone full on holiday flashing) and I wouldn't strip in front of a girlfriend's other half unless she was happy to go topless too. And no-one wants to see your gozongas in a professional environment, period.

But ultimately it’s incredibly liberating. On the continent 80 year old grannies go in for boob baring with little concern for gravity or stretch marks. Wouldn’t it be nice if the rest of us felt the same?’

'I’m a firm believer that size matters when it comes to going topless… and anyone over a D-cup needs to keep them strapped into the confines of a (supportive) bikini. I should know. As someone who wears a well-scaffolded F-cup bra, the last thing my boobs need are to be unleashed. The time I went topless, the following happened. 1. When I lay down on my back my boobs disappeared under my armpits, much to the amusement of my friends. 2. Every time I turned onto my side to reach for the sun lotion/ cocktail/ book they came together with an enormous, thundering ‘boob clap’ sound. Again, followed by much laughter from friends. 3. When I burnt them (which was inevitable given they are each as big as Donna Tartt’s . The hardback edition), I literally couldn’t move for the rest of the holiday. And where is the liberating fun in that?'

'I had no strong thoughts either way about going topless... until I was openly sexually harrassed in the street last summer. I'd been wearing shorts (I was on my way home from a netball match) and when I told a male acquaintance about what had happened, he suggested I wear trackie bums ‘just makes life easier’. It was at this point that I realised I owed it to myself cover up... if only to make a point. After all, why should women have to base their wardrobe choices on what might or might not make a man want to grope them? So, where do I stand on the topless debate? I think it's important that women have a right to be topless if they choose and it's a feminist issue - we should reclaim our bodies at every opportunity. So yes, I will be bearing all this summer.

'I don’t have a moral objection to sunbathing topless, more a mortal fear of unleashing my boobs to the world post motherhood. Two pregnancies and stretches of breastfeeding have left my once pert C-cup cleavage a flat and lacklustre A-cup, with nothing but sad little sacks of stretched skin where my breasts once sat. Hardly attractive, and frankly I’d rather my own husband didn’t see me minus my bra, let alone a load of strangers on the beach.

Of course I know that what has happened to my chest is perfectly normal. Nobody’s breasts can withstand the rigours of motherhood unless they have cosmetic surgery (which I’d rather not resort to) and I wish I felt confident about getting them out to prove that point. But I’ve been so bombarded by images of perfect boobs on celebs and models that I’d be frightened of looking like a freak show – and that wouldn’t make sun bathing any fun at all.'

'When I’m in a quiet corner of my local park on a sunny day, I have no problem with whipping my t-shirt off and basking in the sunshine while avoiding tan lines.

I think it’s sad that we’re so fearful of nudity. We all need to grow up and realise that getting naked is not necessarily a sexual signal, although I realise we can’t change social attitudes overnight and I need to be discreet about going topless. Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn up in your nearest Tesco flashing my nipples while I root through the freezers for a Magnum. You see more men than women going topless in public, but I think everyone should have the opportunity to lose their shirts if they want to. I’d love to see dedicated topless zones in city parks, which would allow people to get their chests out if they wanted to, without upsetting any bystanders. So come on ladies, join the Free The Nipple movement…'.

'I'd never tried going topless before as most of my adult holidays had been to cold places like Berlin or Norway, where to take your top off would be to risk losing a nipple to frostbite. So when I recently spent three weeks travelling around the South of France, I was absolutely determined that I would be coming back with breasts as brown as the rest of my body. However, after finding a pretty deserted beach, whipping my top off and lying down, I felt more exposed and awkward than if my Dad had walked in on me in the shower. It wasn’t that people were looking at me – they weren’t - or that I am in any way ashamed of my body. It just didn’t feel right. All I kept thinking was ‘OH MY GOD, I AM TOPLESS’. I lasted three minutes before my top was back on. I applaud any woman who has the confidence to go topless: we should be celebrating women’s bodies, not telling them to put them away.'



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