Skip to comments.Only the oldies go topless on French beaches
Posted on 07/29/2009 4:05:00 PM PDT by Cincinna
The Paris Plage people knew what they were doing when they put that retro bathing-beauty on this year's beach poster. Body-covering, single-piece swimsuits are indeed the fashion, but for want of real news, le Parisien decided to fill a page yesterday under the headline: "Le monokini, c'est fini!."
Le Parisien's story was over a decade out of date, but that did not prevent foreign media from lifting it as a suitable silly season item. Topless bathing in reality ceased to be fashionable well before the fin of the last siècle and for years few young women have been venturing onto a beach in just their bikini bottom -- like their mothers did and sometimes still do. A sunbather called Nathalie at Bornes-les-Mimosas, a very touristy spot on the Mediterranean, knowledgably informed le Parisien that only two percent of women now went topless there.
A tiny band of feminists still campaigns for the right to go topless in city pools but their cause seems more like 1970s-80s nostalgia. They are competing with Muslim campaigners demanding women's only swimming sessions. Most topless beach-goers nowadays are their 40s, 50s and 60s. An Ifop poll on nudity last April found that French women between 50 and 64 were by far the least pudique -- modest -- about their bodies (The survey was commissioned by Tena, a company that makes products for urinary incontinence.)
The topless phenomenon, which France pioneered in the late 1960s, was always about female equality and women's freedom to be natural. The fashion was bitterly resisted at first by the guardians of morality. There is an amusing account of the period in a new history of France's bathing culture by Christophe Granger, a sociologist.
Newspaper editorialists said children were shocked by naked breasts. "People were hostile and treated the monokini bathers as prostitutes while their advocates called the critics prudes...After a decade of discord, L'Express Magazine closed the debate [in the late 1970s] with a definitive survey under the headline: "Naked breasts: the French are for them!" Granger says.
Granger's book, Les Corps d'Ete, is largely about the furious fight in the 1920s and 30s between the authorities and bathers over the right to show their bare limbs at all. "The old Christian bouregoisie led a moral crusade against these new summer practices. The conflicts were sometimes very violent, with the beating and stoning of women bathers. They accused them of holding public orgies" he says.
I suspect that many women were never comfortable with the topless fashion even though they practised it. As a man, I always found it unnerving. The pretense was that the monokini was not a sexual display. You were supposed to act as thought you didn't notice that the mother of your son's friend, with whom you usually shook hands politely at the school gate, just happened to be naked from the waist up (to mention an episode I remember from the 1990s).
Jean-Claude Kauffman, a sociologist, defined this the other day: "The male on the beach was required to have a completely blank expression, a display of lack of interest, navigating around the beachscape without avoiding the naked breasts nor staring at them."
The demise of the monokini fashion was put down to a return to modesty. I'd say it was more a return to common sense.
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When I lived in Nice, across from the beach, I would watch in incomprehension as topless women toasted themseves as the Arab men stood and looked on from the Promenade des Anglais.
We had more than a few FR threads about the muslims in France harrasing French sunbathers. That plus not wanting their photos all over the internet has probably caused more women to cover up.
The rules, the rules! (i.e. NO PICTURES!)
Gee, Monica looks a lot older than I thought.....
The odd thing is that after seeing all that nudity on the beach, in ads in the Metro, and on TV, after a while you don’t even notice it.
I have often thought that is why the French men are so jades and promiscuous... seeing so much of it all the time, very little excites them.
Apparently, someone is going to the wrong French beaches....
If I wanted to see Fried Egg on a nail droopage I would go to a Biker Bar.........The thing about going to France is you have to put up with the French....(Beautiful Country...wonderful food..and wine..I liked the Calvados apple brandy better...and the women..Oh LA LA..)
It is the same nowadays (at least last year) I noticed the behavior of the Arabs as well.
That has to be one of the worst "backformations" I've ever seen.
When I was in Nice entire families were topless, from prepubescent girls to grannies. Also a lot of tourists who just wanted to show how hip they were.
The French are very logical people, and their language reflects it.
The term “Monokini” to describe a one piece “Bikini” makes total logical sense in the realm of French logic.
No need to imagine.
When I was young and studly, I visited “Hippy Hollow” a “clothing optional” swimmin’ hole near Austin with a couple of female friends of mine-—it was a total sausage-fest. The only women of note were the two I arrived with.
Jeez, the author acts like the French had some sort of monopoly on this. Go to a beach in Spain. Go the schwimmbad in Germany. Go to a Greek island. Women from many countries have breasts I have noticed.
Hence the boom in Arab immigration to France. ;’) Thanks Cincinna.
Eh, after awhile it sort of becomes passe’, how nice, breasts, pass me another Chablis..
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