Leave it to The French. When the whole world is talking about Covid-19, they change the subject, and the headlines, back to its country’s Number One invention – Topless Sunbathing.
It appears that a couple of local gendarmes at a popular beach in southern France ordered three females seeking an “all-over” tan to cover up following complaints by an "uncomfortable" family with children frolicking nearby. (The wife was "uncomfortable,” the kids were playing tag with the surf, and the husband was doing what most husbands do at the beach.)
“Non, non,” said the free-thinking interior minister of France who ensured that no one will be stripped of the right to sunbathe topless, which is perfectly legal in the country. He stressed that "freedom is a precious commodity." Right-on, minister!
Although local authorities can implement clothing rules in certain areas, topless bathing is legal in France and is allowed on the beach in question. My kind of place. In fact, topless bathing is legal in many other parts of the world, too. For example, Barcelona confirms women can swim topless in all city pools.
Of course, men (and some women) gazing at a well-formed topless female body may stir up some impure thoughts, but, hey, that’s only a natural reaction, something I’ve been having since my first issue of Playboy and my first glimpse of Bridget Bardot in And God Created Women. But that’s another story. Now, of course, this situation is almost strictly a “man’s” subject of concern, of course, since women can ogle topless men wherever and whenever they desire. Tell me about “equal rights, again).
Unfortunately, the art of women going topless at beaches is on the decline, according to various polls . . . and for various reasons. However, the fact is, ever since Brigitte Bardot took off her top on the French Riviera in the 1960s, the correlation between topless sunbathing and women's liberation has been entrenched in French culture as a sign of true equality. Many others followed suit and the breast and beach were reclaimed, and topless sunbathing reclaimed its place among top sightseeing attractions, along with Big Ben in London and the Empire State Building in New York.
But, all good things come to an end, and topless sunbathing is now at an all-time low. News that so few women are now going topless (just 2% of women under 35 said they did) seems extraordinary – and depressing. And you can blame that on so-called social media. Apparently, young attractive women in their 20s and 30s take off their tops less frequently because they are aware that they can end up bare-breasted on their own Facebook wall or, worse, someone’s YouTube video. Or much worse.
So, without question, the view along the seaside at beaches throughout the world, especially Crete, “ain’t what it used to be.” And no one can testify to that better than yours truly. When we moved here from New York City in 1985, every other young woman on the beach was topless. Apparently, there was a Greek law against it, but it was never enforced. Let me tell you, there was a time I burned up a small fortune in petrol riding up and down that 13- mile beachfront road near my house checking out just who was breaking the law – and some were breaking it more than others and should have gotten a “bigger” fine, if you follow my drift. Several times, I thought about making a “citizen’s arrest,” you know, going up to them and saying, “you’re busted.” But it never happened. When my daughter, Cara, came for a visit in 2004, she almost caused several accidents – from the passenger seat, she would suddenly reach over and cover my eyes, telling me: “Daddy, don’t look!”
Well, for whatever reason, the Greek police started enforcing the law several years ago, and, well, I hardly ever drive along the beach road any longer – except to go to the beach, where I go swimming topless.