TOPLESS

(c) 1998 Carol Kaufmann    <ckaufman@ngs.org>

After an intense study abroad program, I escape to the beauty of the Mediterranean for some serious beach time without pressure to think. There I see a woman with more than a few pounds to loose, one who must be nearly 70 years old and has no trouble taking off her shirt. All around I see women of various shapes and sizes, nearly naked. French, German, Italian - wherever they're from - they make stripping down to scarcely their skivvies on this beach look so . . . natural. The shape of the body, the age of the skin, the size of the breast seems to matter not to them.

They not only lie on their stomachs, they roll over, they converse with men and each other, they walk up and down the beach, they play frisbee in mixed company. They even talk to American men, whose unadjusted eyes cannot possibly focus solely on their faces. Simply get them near sand and these women say Hello, world, here I am!

Surely I cannot be the first to ask, How do they do that?

Is better dis way, explains my Parisian friend, Claude-Eric. Dis way, der no tan lines.

Oh.

But aren't you automatically drawn to their bare chests? Don't you keep staring? I probe.

Welllll, es inresting few minnus, dan es boring, he shruggs. I prefer woman in nice dress so I imagine. Es more sexier.

Ah.

I decide to give it a test run. Armed with mirrored sunglasses to observe reactions, I casually slip my bikini top off as if it is a sock, just the way I see all the other brave souls do it. I lie down and do a subtle 360 turn.

Nothing.

Not only is no one acting out of the ordinary, I don't feel weird. I feel . . . free.

Maybe this practice is a partial return to living prior to original sin. Obviously, with no sense of shame, humans, in this case females, are free of the barriers that stand between our physical bodies and the natural earth. A woman's breasts are so much a part of what makes her female - and feminine. European topless bathing takes place on sand overlooking water, an elemental, natural setting. Such contact with the earth in nearly our original form has to even out the temper, calm the mind, and restore the soul. Yes, it's a better place, this beach full of topless women. And with only a little material covering what is necessary, a healthy intimacy is born.

You ded it? Claude-Eric exclaims when I tell him about my day. Ded men stare you?

According to you it shouldn't matter! Besides, I felt so comfortable, I fell asleep.

Maybe I'm mistaken about the pre-original sin scenario. But Claude-Eric does have a point. I'm much happier with no tan lines.


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