Design Mom Asks: Topless Beaches

I’ve got a (possibly scandalous!) question for you related to last week’s discussion about Cosmetic Procedures. But first, some backstory:

On our visit to the beach at Deauville, we were getting our chairs and towels situated, when I looked up and realized many of the women on the beach were topless. Not everyone, mind you — I didn’t feel at all out of place wearing my swimsuit — but there were plenty of examples. It’s not like this was an official “topless beach,” it was just a normal public beach, and if you wanted to sunbathe topless, you could. This was the first time I had ever been to a French beach, so I didn’t know, but I’ve since heard it’s the norm here. And I have to say, it was not at all what I imagined a topless beach to be.

Before I visited Deauville, the words “topless beach” brought to mind something scandalous — like a frat party from a movie or a glimpse into life at the Playboy mansion. But the women I saw on the beach were not 18 year olds, they were my peers. Some younger, some older, but pretty much all of them with children and a husband, having a regular family day at the shore. I didn’t want to stare, but I couldn’t help notice these were women who had evidently nursed their children. : ) I was unexpectedly impressed by these women. They weren’t trying to draw attention to themselves, and they weren’t trying to be “sexy”, but they were totally comfortable in their skin and they had very normal bodies — among the full spectrum of “normal”.

Now, I realize there are different standards of modesty in different cultures — from burkas to topless bathing. (Fun fact: I’m a Mormon, and there are some Mormons who believe showing your shoulders is immodest.) I also realize that Americans are nutso when it comes to breasts — implants are commonplace, but women go to great lengths to cover up while nursing their babies. Bizarre! So, pretending modesty isn’t part of the equation, my question is: How do you feel about your body? Are you confident enough in your skin to hang out at the beach topless? (I don’t think I am.) Also. Have you ever visited a beach with topless bathers? Was it shocking?

image by Oh Happy Day

266 thoughts on “Design Mom Asks: Topless Beaches”

  1. I definitely do not have the confidence for that and I think that is largely due to the culture I live in (Utah). I think it’s great to experience new cultures and I love hearing all about the adventures your family is taking part in. Out of curiosity…how did you handle the topless issue with your older children…I imagine the little ones thought nothing of it?

    1. You’re exactly right, Kristin. The little ones didn’t even notice. Ralph didn’t seem to care either — the ladies were all old in his eyes, not objects of desire. Maude was embarrassed for the world as only a 12 year old can be embarrassed. She was glad none of the girls her age were bathing topless.

  2. I’ve done a topless beach many times. Not here in Canada, (brrr, it’s too cold) but when my husband and I go on tropical vacations. I have no problem with public nudity or my female form in all of it’s less than perfect glory.

    One walk down a topless beach and a gal will quickly realize what ever type of body she is rocking, someone’s will always look better. And someone’s will always look much, much worse. Wink.

  3. Would I feel comfortable going topless? No. Do I feel comfortable in a bathingsuit in general? Heck, no! I would like to at least experience a topless beach. I’m hoping every one else’s boobs end up like mine post-babies. I think I’ve built up this “everyone else’s body looks so much better than mine” image in my head.

    1. This! I’m so pale and freckly, it would be horrid to to expose all of that skin to the sun. Even with sunscreen, I always manage to burn badly at least once a summer.

      I grew up in a family that isn’t afraid of nudity in the privacy of your own home, but I’m also not self-confident enough to go topless in public. I nursed publicly without a cover over my baby’s head, but I would always have a blanket over his torso covering any of my exposed belly.

      1. You put it perfectly – not too worried about my breasts showing while I nurse, or some nudity at home, but I HATE my muffin top (post 5 pregnancies) showing to anyone. I can’t imagine that I could leave my breasts free while wearing up to my ribs to conceal the rest :)

        1. HA! So true for me too, Janelle. And besides that, I’m not comfortable showing my body. Once I was on a beach in Malaysia and the Malaysian women were on the beach in burkahs…and there were Europeans going topless! To me, that was totally culturally inappropriate. So, like you said, it seems like it’s a lot about context, but for me personally, not gonna happen. ;)

    2. Definitely this! I’m Irish, pale and freckled. I don’t go outside without a hat on, much less a shirt. But I do nurse without any sort of cover over me and in my house we all change in front of each other.

  4. hmm, I like the idea that a woman of any shape and size can feel comfortable baring it all at a beach. I think (again, modesty aside) if I were at the beach with a bunch of girlfriends I might be brave enough to bare it all. I Don’t think i could do it with my husband and children there. My husband would be embarrassed I am sure, and well, I don’t know how I would feel about my kids seeing their mom that way…only because we’ve tried to raise them with a sense of modesty and I wouldn’t know how to explain it to them.

  5. Hey Gabrielle! I was an exchange student in France when I was in high school — I went to a french beach once and experienced the whole topless gig — Not for me! I was/am just to shy about that sort of thing. But I remember vividly being amazed at the spectrum of French ladies doing it — every age on up to some really elderly 70ish plus ladies. It was very fascinating! ~Melissa

  6. In Europe it is very normal to be topless at the beach and I don’t mind at all, even when we are amongst friends. It’s totally normal in Europe, so I am totally not shocked.

  7. I have never been to France, but saw many European women go topless on the public beaches back home (I’m from Dominican Republic). I would NEVER go topless since it’s was not the norm growinh up (in DR and here in the states). Besides, I’m a Jehovah’s Witness and it wouldn’t be considered modest at all (you think?) :)

  8. I think it’s a little ridiculous how embarrassed of breasts we are in the U.S. Especially when a nursing mother is asked to stop or go somewhere else when some teenagers are wearing dresses with less fabric than my nursing cover.

    We were on a beach in Greece and there were some completely nude couples. Not sexy at all, but not really that awkward either. I think it helps your own image confidence. Sort of a “If she is bathing in her birthday suit, with that body, maybe I could too and be proud of it” kind of thing. I could never go the full monty on a public beach, but I think I could handle topless if everyone around me was. Of course my husband would probably have a heart attack and be more embarrassed than Maude :)

  9. Forgot to add that on a family vacation, some men (family friends) were trying to guess the age of said women based on how their “ladies” hung :) Men just can’t behave!

  10. When you say “Fun fact: I’m a Mormon, and there are some Mormons who believe showing your shoulders is immodest” do you mean even when/if they are wearing a bathing suit? I’m just a little confused by this statement.

    1. Hah! I didn’t explain very well. I would be confused too. : )

      For every day dressing, there are some Mormons who feel showing shoulders is not modest. Pretty much all Mormons make an exception for sports, swimming or other activities that require specific uniforms or particular clothing.

      1. Do you show your shoulders in every day dressing DM?

        My mother always let me till I turned 12, then she said it was no longer appropriate due to the pressure from other Mom’s in the branch.

        1. I don’t — if I did my undershirt would show. : ) But it’s not a modesty issue. I think there’s a big difference between dressing immodestly and showing your shoulders.

          1. DM:
            I wanted to add something. I’m an LDS mother and I remember when my daughter was around 14 and it became a big deal what she should or shouldn’t wear. I found that there were a lot of girls who were immodest in their attire even though they had their shoulders covered and their dresses were as long as their knees. It’s HOW something is worn that can make it immodest. Tank tops are not necessarily immodest, it’s how a piece of clothing is worn.
            I don’t wear tank tops because of my undershirt, too, but a 12 or 14 year old is not immodest if she wears a simple sports tank top.
            BTW, I’m not embarrassed by the human form, but I don’t think I could sit on a beach without a top. Plus, I have all that Irish complexion–just looking for a sunburn.

          2. What is an “undershirt” you ladies discuss?

            I have been to topless beaches before and just could not do it! I admire the woman who can.

  11. Not for me. I have been skinny dipping in a pool, but that was with close friends. And I was 17! I can’t imagine letting everyone see everything!!!
    The closest I have ever come to being in a public topless bathing situation was at Barton Springs in Austin. It’s tops optional, however most women prefer to be covered (I use that term loosely!). The funny thing was that I was accompanying a group of jr high boys and girls. The woman who opted to go topless was beautiful. It was so funny watching the boys try to be “good” and not ogle her!

  12. The first time I ever encountered it was in France in the early 90s–I was expecting it, but what I wasn’t expecting was to feel so conspicuous being the only woman of my age not going topless; the beach I visited was almost one hundred percent top-free. Eventually I took a deep breath, peeled off, and went home sunburnt and faintly scandalized with myself, but in a good way!

    Would I do it now? I don’t know. I’m in two different places than I was at 18: both much more pleased and confident with my body, but also much less likely to care if I’m standing out like a sore thumb in a crowd. I guess that’s a happy dilemma!

  13. so funny! when my sister and i were backpacking in Italy, we came across this hidden little beach. there were not a ton of people there, but all the women (of ALL ages) were topless. we felt like being adventurous and joined. and it felt totally normal and freeing! no one blinked an eye or looked twice. a few hours later, we heard english (everyone else was speaking italian) and saw a group of american guys coming down the path towards the beach and we SCRAMBLED to put our tops back on. so funny how boobs just mean such different things to each culture.

  14. I so wish that I had the self-confidence to go topless on the beach. Just this week, I bought a dress for a friend’s wedding – the first dress I will have worn in a very long time because I don’t like my body. Although part of me thinks that I will totally rock the dress!!!!

  15. Hello, I live in Chile and I live on the beach, my city is visited specially for tourist from Argentina, and there is a beach “Reñaca” really popular. In summer is like be in Argentina, because is full of tourist from there. Well they don’t have problems with their body and they are beautiful and usually you saw argentinian woman without the top of bikini but only the back because is not permitted do topples in almost all beaches. About breast feeding before was more usual see woman feeding their babies, but now not, because the breast fall down, and the people who practice the breast feeding there is two kind, the cool kind who breastfeed your child but not in public places, this year malls start to build areas for moms and childs to they can feed the babies away the others. (this is new in my country). And the others who practiced the BF like always, in public places like me, to me is more important feed my child than be hide because someone could see me.

  16. I would go topless – however, I am so pale (living in Scotland would do that to you) I could only last about 5 mins….usually on the beach in Scotland you are wearing a raincoat, thermals etc.

  17. I’ve never done it, but I’d probably try it if my friends would. However, I would never go full monty. Yipes. If for no other reason, the sunburn.

    The only time I’ve seen topless women sunbathing was in Miami (I have a theory that there are no laws in Miami….which is awesome). It was more amusing than anything. For example, I got to send a text to my friend saying, “Hey, found a place – I’m propped next to the busty topless lady, so might be easier to find her and then look for me.” There was another one there with her baby (and breastfeeding) wearing only swimsuit *thongs.” She rocked it. Good for her, sad for me. Brazilians don’t droop at all, anywhere, do they? :P

  18. Hi- having just returned from France, I found the women’s comfortableness in their own skin refreshing. I never had the impression that one of them was wishing they were another size and that in turn made me more comfortable! It was very refreshing! I can’t say I would ever go topless, but I don’t bat an eye at those who did, by our second beach day we hardly noticed.

  19. Yes, I’d second the comment about it being totally normal in Europe. I grew up by the sea in the UK and although less so than Europe, it was commonplace there too. I didn’t own a bikini top until I became a self-conscious teenager and I rarely wear one now if I’m in France on holiday. Your point about the women being normal and natural is really nice as there’s really nothing exotic about it :)

  20. We have frequented many topless beaches in Europe, and you described it perfectly ~ it isn’t about sexual allure, but more centered around women being confident in themselves. I’ll admit that the first time I tried it, it was liberating, and when given the chance to go topless again, I shall do it.

  21. I used to be very self-conscious about my body. But between the birth and breastfeeding, having my first child got rid of many of my hang-ups. I can’t say I *love* my body, but it is what it is and I have no worries breastfeeding in public. So I’d probably try the topless beach at least once. At least sand wouldn’t get stuck down your suit! :)

  22. My first experience on a topless beach was in Norway when I was an extremely self conscious 18 year old. I hadn’t even heard of such a thing and went to the beach with some Norwegian girls. They took their tops off as soon as we got to the beach and I just sat there in my one piece swimsuit dumbfounded. But during my year in Norway I learned that females there don’t ever feel ashamed about their bodies and don’t even think twice about covering up like most in North America. I really wish that we could get some of that here because they really don’t have as many girls with self esteem issues.

  23. NEVER! Won’t go to a topless beach, either. Totally uncomfortable with the topic, in general. Cultural or not, modesty has to play a part. Modesty is a virtue that has nothing to do how “comfortable” someone is with the appearance of their body. I could be a perfect 10 and still would never wear anything too revealing, let alone topless.
    PS ~ Nursed six children (1 year each) and never embarrassed anyone while doing so. (a little modesty doesn’t hurt anyone)

    1. Isn’t it fascinating how different cultures view modesty? There are parts of the world where a women can nurse uncovered and no one is embarrassed. No men, no women — it wouldn’t even occur to them to be embarrassed because they see nothing immodest or embarrassing about nursing.

      1. I have never felt more comfortable nursing in public than when I was in Peru. There, women (and men, sometimes) would lean in to complement and talk to my child (over a year, by then). Nursing (anywhere) was completely natural and commonplace.

      2. Yes, it is fascinating how different cultures view modesty.

        I don’t think I made myself clear. I think nursing is beautiful and natural, but I do live in a cultural that could be uncomfortable, so I covered up (which was no problem at all) out of respect for all those around me.

      3. I “like” your reply DM. I am American but had and nursed my sons in France. Nursing (in public, at home, friends house) never has been a source of embarrassment for anyone in France (IMO).

        When I hear my friends who live stateside explain their nursing experiences it makes me sort of sad. I ve heard men AND women describe the site of a mother nursing her child as gross. There is some sort of boob double standard.

        As for going topless at the beach. Growing up in Miami Beach it was widely accepted to be topless. Interestingly, in Biarritz (the beaches I frequent in France) there are very few topless beach goers. I wonder if it is regional even in France?

        Very interesting topic. I appreciate your ability to start these conversations among women everywhere ;-)

  24. There are topless bathers at Ditch Plains Beach on Montauk ,NY where I summer. Most are younger women with bikini bodies.

    I am thin and despite turning 50 in 2 days, I look just fine in a bikini .thanks. Still I would be way to shy to go topless. Xo and Happy. Summer,Lynn

  25. Oh I find this topic so interesting. I am a Mormon and definitely respect modest clothing, but I have no issue with topless women at the beach, I feel like when women are doing it not be sexy, but just because it is more comfortable and natural it seems just fine. But then I wonder if these are contradicting thoughts? Regardless, I decided as a teenager to never worry about my body (swimsuit clad or not) at the beach because it takes away all of the enjoyment.

    1. “I decided as a teenager to never worry about my body (swimsuit clad or not) at the beach because it takes away all of the enjoyment.”

      I think that is brilliant!!

    2. Whitney,

      I totally agree that it is a waste of time to worry about your body in a bathing suit. No one else is scrutinizing you–they’re all worried about THEIR bodies!

      1. Oh, that’s a good point Amanda. I never thought about the fact that they are all too worried about their own bodies in a swimsuit! Thanks, that helps.

  26. I think here in the US we live with breastmania. I don’t really know where it comes from but it holds men and women hostage in its ugly grasp. As my grandma said, “Parts is parts.” It doesn’t take long to realize the full spectrum one experiences in faces and hair color and ear shape also exists in breasts, and derierres and other private parts. I think men and women (and teenage boy and teenage girls) here would benefit immensely if everyone would just chill out about breasts. There would be less surgery and body anxiety and breastfeeding would be restored to its rightful place as the normal way an infant is fed. Breasts don’t have to be either/or. For some reason, we’ve just made them that way. (and yes I have been to topless beaches in France. In fact, I once saw the cutest thing… and older woman, probably 70-ish would use her bold blue and white striped bikini top as a turban to keep her hair up and out of the water while swimming. She had the most elaborate way she wrapped and tucked the top and then clasped it in the front. Then she would regally walk into the water and swim, with her very-obvious top holding her hair above the wake….)

  27. This is quite fascinating. I am European; I spent most of my childhood in the UK but have since lived 10 years on Australia and 12 years in France. In both France and Australia women go topless at the beach. Beaches are not called “topless beaches” it’s just what women do here ….at every beach, so there is no need for the label! Funny, I brought a couple of friends from New York down to the beach in France and it didn’t even cross my mind but I must admit once I’d spotted their slightly uncomfortable / embarrassed expressions it made me realise just how “alien” this concept of “going topless” appeared to them!

  28. I have fond memories of the older ladies sunning topless on the beaches in Italy — standing up, naturally, for more even exposure. They stood serenely with their hands on their hips and rotated in the sun for what seemed like hours.

    And I once found myself on a beach while traveling alone. I chose the “women’s” section of the beach because I wouldn’t have anyone to watch my things while I was in the water and I felt that was safer.

    The beach was full of older ladies happily and comfortably fully nude, like cats in the sun. One group had formed a circle in the water and were singing together.

    I didn’t strip off my own suit that day because, truly, no sunscreen would have been strong enough for my never-before-exposes skin!

  29. I think I would do it if I were all alone, is that weird? I don’t mean the only one on the beach, but without anyone I knew. I think the only reasoning I can come up with is then there would be no one to judge? Or maybe like another girl mentioned, breast just mean something else in a different culture. If nothing else, so that one day when my little girl read my journal she could say “NO WAY!” and think that maybe there are a few things about her mamma that she didn’t know :).

  30. I felt the same when I was in Croatia. I didn’t feel like the women were trying to be overly sexy. I was actually jealous of how liberated they seemed. I thought I could go topless and I was just so uncomfortable — I guess I couldn’t shake that stuffy American out of me!

  31. I don’t think I could do it. And not even because of my boobs (which aren’t worth a second glance) but because my STOMACH would have to be exposed as well. And for some reason I’m way more self conscious about that.

    1. Me too! As I said in reply to another commenter, I nursed my son in public without a traditional nursing cover, but I always had a blanket on hand to cover my exposed belly. That bothered me so much more than the idea of my nipple being exposed in public.

  32. When I visited Portugal a few months ago, I went to a beach and saw women sunbathing topless. My boyfriend told me about it (his entire family is Portuguese so he’s used to it) but growing up in America where that’s not common, I was taken back a bit.

    Honestly, I think if you’re confident in your body, more power to you! I don’t even wear a 2 piece bathing suit, so I don’t think I’d do it. Maybe after a few more months at the gym. :)

  33. Reading through all the comments… so interesting. I wonder if going topless is less about being confident, though, and more about it not being a modesty issue in France. For example, I don’t think men go shirtless here in the U.S. because they are more confident… it’s just because it’s considered “normal.”

    I also think many countries understand the health benefits of sunshine more. A friend of mine had a grandmother who lived in France and when they would go visit her in the summer the grandmother would insist she go topless so she could get sunshine on her skin. My friend, being an adolescent and an American, was embarrassed beyond belief but her grandmother really believed, and rightfully so, that she needed the sunshine.

    1. I agree with you Cutzi. It’s not necessarily about confidence but more about the way we were raised. It’s a normal thing and there is nothing sexual about it. I’ve been topless in the past in France but I wouldn’t do it here because people would stare.

  34. Have been to several topless beaches in Europe and at first it seemed strange..especially because we were with our kids and another family, but after one stroll on the beach, you feel totally in place. I’m not shy or modest though, so it was easy to fit in. It felt so refreshing.

    In our own pool or with friends at our lake house, we embrace topless sunning…and skinny dipping. It’s so freeing that it’s easy to get use to it.

  35. Would I do it? No. Not because I’m ashamed of my body, but because I’ve grown up in a culture (American) where showing breasts says something in particular – and I don’t want to say that. :) I breastfed in public without qualms, but going topless – I don’t think so. That being said, if I lived in France and was comfortable with the vibe (i.e. sure that my toplessness wouldn’t be misinterpreted) then I would consider it. Like some other commenters, though, I’d be afraid of sunburn!

  36. I would relish the opportunity to have my breasts feel warmth of the sun.

    I think it’s an innocent pleasure that for many cultures has been warped into something so over the top sexual. I don’t think beaches would allow it where I live for fear of sexual assault or inappropriate activities being encouraged by a few bare breasts.

    I’m a natural size D-DD and have nursed my children but my breast have remained firm and for the most part perky. They do however try to hide under my arm pits when I lay down.

    This summer I’d like to be tan all over but I would make that happen in my own backyard. I hope the VT’s don’t come over unexpectedly!

  37. As another note, I was having a ‘my breasts are awful’ crisis recently and went bra shopping with a friend. She got a little tired of my lamenting and took off her shirt too to show me her’s are FAR more saggy and deflated. I’d never seen another woman’s bare chest before and it was a great reality check.

    I think topless beaches would help keep a healthy perspective for girls/women as far as shape, size and reality.

    1. Yes! Thank you for saying this. When all we see exposed (more importantly: our children) are “perfect” breasts, we get a really distorted sense of what’s normal and healthy.

      I went to a sauna at age 21 in Europe and realized that I was seeing naked bodies for pretty much the first time in my life. It really changed how I felt about my own body — in a good way.

    1. And I am continually surprised by how well you seem to roll with the punches during your time abroad. I have to say, as someone who’s lived abroad, that the things we may *know* about another culture/country don’t always come to the forefront of our minds when we’re actually moving through that country. I had a similar experience in Europe, and not because I didn’t *know* that was common, but because you get so caught up in your own routine (ie: packing for the beach, getting set up, etc.), that it can still be unexpected. It’s so fun to actually live those differences, and not just read about them. Enjoy!

  38. I think Nature intended for us to wear as little as possiable when swimming. The most heavenly experience in life in one can have is to swim nude. I find that when I am in a bathing suit I tend to feel uncomfortable with my body–tugging here and there and making sure this and that is still where I put it. I feel more confidant with the less I wear!

  39. I lay topless on the beach in Spain on the Costa Del Sol. It was spectacular. And I found it much the way you described it. There was nothing scandalous about it at all. Really, I think it has more to do with what I feel are ridiculous, sexualized, American ideas about breasts. This is why most women I know are so scared to breastfeed in public as well. But I think once you go to Europe, to the beaches, see the mamas nursing their babies, etc. It all becomes really silly. In Spain, all the babies were naked as well. And when I say naked, I mean kids as old as 6. There were no itty bitty swim suits or swim diapers. It was so sweet and adorable and felt very natural.

  40. I like that the US is so modest. But not necessarily at the expense of being super judgmental and critical. Which is what the media is known for. Every actor is picked apart and dissected to the point that you’d need dental records to know who’s lips went with which set of eyebrows! I wish there was a way to feel comfortable in your skin without needing to wear clothes made for someone 15 years younger than you!

  41. I personally think our culture (including Mormons) are wayyyy to hung up on breasts and bodies being purely sexual and something that should be concealed. There is a huge difference between dressing like a skank and being confident and secure with your body, too. I walk around naked in front of my 3 boys and I would do it on a beach also. I think it’s healthy for them to see a woman’s body in a nonsexual way.

  42. I could NOT do it. Even when I was a skinny cute college student I was uncomfortable with my body, but 13 years and 3 kids later I have stretchmarks, scars, and I nursed 3 babies. It would never happen. Also, I understand that women can be comfortable with their bodies, but that doesn’t mean other people want to see them topless…I would be very uncomfortable in that situation.

    What did your kids/husband think? I’m dying to know.

      1. I find this interesting. I don’t think I could have ever gone topless in my late teens or early 20s either. In fact I remember blushing when I was an exchange student in Germany and went to a beach and there were women going topless for the first time (by the end of the year, didn’t blush so much, but still didn’t participate). Now after 4 kids and a year of nursing each, I think I would be more likely to go topless. I am much more confident in my skin and also because the mindset that my body is so much more than an object of sexual attraction. That’s where I think many cultures go wrong, telling girls they have to cover up or dress a certain way because of what they are making the boys think. Going topless at most beaches is so much more than attracting attention. It’s about being comfortable and confident.

        Side note to DM: Not sure if France is the same way, but in Germany there were designated nude public pools and beaches, so watch out for those if you are taking your kids.

  43. That is the norm in France from my experiences. I would not go topless unless I had an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction. I suppose it is modesty, but I nursed both my kids and I know I flashed people. I did my best to keep covered, but sometimes those babies just wiggle too much. I wasn’t self conscious when I was nursing at all but going topless on a beach is another story. I am rather big chested, and to me, it would be uncomfortable to go without support.

  44. Several years ago I was vacationing near Tulum, Mexico with my husband. There were lots of Europeans around sunning toplessly and it wasn’t a big deal. To this modest, self-conscious American, their confidence was infectious — I probably would have done the same but I only had a one piece suit which makes undressing/redressing quite awkward! Next time I will be sure to bring a bikini, though I would never wear one in the States.

    1. Dear Johanna,

      well, in the eighties, when one piece swimsuits were fashionable, lots of girls just pushed theirs down. Just a though; )).

      1. That’s exactly what I did! But I pulled my arms out of the neck opening , pulled it down a little, flipped it inside out, and let my legs through the arm openings. Wow, those were the days.

  45. I love the casual nudity on French beaches because bodies are totally normal, healthy and beautiful at any age, and in any shape. Its only sexy when you are having sex…which should be done in private, IMHO. I do not like the strange double message sent in the US where everything is SEX SEX SEX but a breast feeding woman is considered too much. With that said, I am uncomfortable at first going topless, but after awhile, I don’t even notice. When it is just myself and my husband in a private pool, I AM NAKED! It is a wonderful free feeling.

  46. As a grown woman, i don’t think I would personally mind being at a topless beach (though i probably wouldn’t participate….i don’t think i’m quite “there” yet), but as a mom of 4 boys…..would you take your sons to these beaches? just curious.

    1. I have three boys, ages 13, 10, and 8. I would definitely take them to a topless beach. In fact, I think the sooner they could go, the better. I want them to think breasts are just another normal part of your body.

    2. I have two boys, ages 7 and 10 and I would take them. I also see nothing wrong with body parts. I feel like we make such a big deal in our country but why, they are just boobs. And I would go topless there even though I have nursed two kids, had many scars on my breasts from lumps being removed and I am nor thin. I guess it is just not that big a deal for me.

    3. I go topless, or in a one-piece. Meaning with my family and children, son and daughter (twins) 9, older daughter 12. All of us girls don’t even own a bikini top. Also, “modesty” is what you make of it. Meaning, if it was unacceptable to go topless then it is immodest, and vice-versa.

      Christian, believe it or not.

  47. my husband and I visited italy for a sunfish regatta last summer without the children, and while we were packing I couldn’t find one of my bikini tops. He said, “you know, we’ll be in italy, you don’t really need it” and my response was, “yes, that’s true, but do you really want your sailing buddies to see my breasts?” he said no and suggested I look a little harder for my bathing suit.
    there were topless women on the beach, ranging from women who were older than me, down to 16 year olds…all there for a family day at the beach. it didn’t bother me one bit, in fact I was proud of the obvious lack of self conciousness (even among the women who were wearing bathing suits)
    had we been somewhere where we didn’t know anyone, I might have gone topless myself.

    1. This, along with a few other comments, are where I stand. I am pretty comfortable with my body and agree that we should take the sexualization out of public nudity (especially in the U.S. and Mormon culture), we walk around naked in our home in front of our girls and I will teach them to feel confident about their body, parts, and accepting and living cultural norms where ever we are… but…

      I think *I* could feel comfortable topless on a beach a) if I didn’t know anyone, i.e. my in-laws weren’t there (I just cannot imagine being topless in front of my FIL!) or our close friends and b) if I knew that my husband wasn’t looking at OTHER women in a sexualized way. Is that terrible? I am perfectly fine with it, I just don’t know if my U.S.-husband is ready for it. I guess that’s why I wonder less about how your (DM) kids handle it and more about how your husband handled it?

      But, if I ever get the chance, yes, I think I would go topless at a beach. I wait for the chance!

      1. Oh, and I’m pretty casual about nursing. I only cover up when I’m around my Dad, FIL, my brothers-in-law, etc. It’s because I know it would embarrass THEM.

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