French Sunbathing shows that French culture is getting slightly more modest. The younger generation finds the idea of women going topless at the beach to be unsavory.
France’s summer is fast becoming a memory, and so is one of its iconic beach sights: the topless woman. As few as 2% of French women under 35 now say they want to bare their breasts, according to an Elle magazine poll this summer. It’s a far cry from the once-ubiquitous scenes of semi-nudity on the French Riviera, epitomized by 1960s blond bombshell Brigitte Bardot. “It’s seen as vulgar. People are more prudish these days,” explains 60-year old Muriel Trazie, keeping her breasts out of the public eye while sunning herself on Paris Plages, the French capital’s summer beach.
So things do get better sometimes. In this case, Elle magazine attempts to explain the new shyness as health related. People don’t want to get skin cancer.
But what about the other ninety-five percent of a woman’s skin? And why would only females care about skin cancer? I’m not saying the explanation is impossible. I’m just pointing out that, for this explanation to work, we would need to account for a few other variables.
A much more interesting suggestion, that would especially explain why women and girls have changed their behavior comes from a 22-year-old male “beach monitor” (life guard?) who is quoted in the story:
“I see lots of old men loitering around here,” he explains. “I have to stop them from taking photos on their phones. It happens all the time.”
So suddenly we have moved into a world where “what happens at the beach no longer is likely to stay at the beach.” A woman is no longer making a choice to do something daring for a short time at a special location. She has to decide if she wants to see her mammary glands forever loose in the internet’s image harem. Faced with that choice, many seem to come to a different conclusion on how to behave than they did before.
So, despite the horrors of sexting (and law enforcement’s response to it), sometimes that technology can actually help us out. It can add consequences that change people’s behavior and then even their feelings and values about that behavior.
We should pray that happens more often.