Saturday, August 01, 2009

Les Corps d'Été

So...French women are all pissed off about their boobs. And the British, who usually eye the French from across The Channel with a sort of wary and less-than-amused look, are more than happy to listen to them bitch and moan.
The issue, well not so much an issue as a trend, is that there has been a marked decline in toplessness at beaches in the French Riviera. The French Riviera, which is the stretch of beaches along the Mediterranean coast in the south of France favored by the rich, famous, and young of the world, especially Europe. And it is famous, apparently, for its topless beaches. I just found that out just now. But lately, apparently, they have not been living up to their reputation, and the good folks at the BBC decided to look into it.
What they found was that the topless fad began in 1964 in Saint Tropez, and reached its peak during the women's liberation movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Back then, as American and British women were struggling to stay covered the half-bare French women were about as exotic as they came, sort of like those African tribal girls with no tops in National Geographic from back in the day.
To French women it was a whole different ball game, however. Because they apparently like to take things WAY too seriously and because they apparently wouldn't admit that they just didn't want to wear tops, they had to make it all about asserting and controlling their own sexuality and being equal to the men. The men, of course, did not mind one little bit. In fact, I would guess that this was one of the few women's liberation issues that all men, not just the ones pretending to be for the cause in an effort just to get laid, could and would support in droves. So the women of France and Europe could go out and go topless in a horizontal way (while sunbathing) or in a more vertical style (all the time) or not at all. It was all about freedom and skin IN YOUR FACE. Which I would guess was fine with most guys. So what happened?
All those women's liberation chicks got old. That's what happened. They grew up and either sagged and had to wrap them up for comfort or they got old and quit going to the beach. Since they seemed to not have passed the importance of showing ones bodacious ta-tas to everyone at the beach on to their daughters, or more likely because the movement and the moment had long since passed, the topless beaches are gradually become topped again. Generally, the only people one sees going topless at the beach are those same old dames who were doing so back in the sixties, which doesn't excite the men like it used to back then.
Interestingly enough, the battle over topless beaches still rages, or at least simmers, somewhere far, far away from the sun and sand of Cannes or Nice. The forefront of discussion and action on this, the most important of moral questions, is the French capital of Paris. Did you know that every summer they build an artificial beach on the Seine in Paris? Well you do now. Do you know why they don't just build a permanent beach or leave the temporary one there year-round? Neither do I; I just can't figure it out. Anyway, that beach is called Paris-Plage (literally translated as Paris Beach; they really missed the creativity boat, or bateau d'imagination if you will, on this one) and it is the only one in all of France to ban toplessness on its female patrons. So because they can't go topless there, Parisian women are demonstrating topless at public pools instead. They are pissed because women are sexualized in advertising, magazines, etc. I am not sure how running around topless at the friendly local swimming pool is going to do anything for that but I am not a French woman.
So what's the moral of this story today? What's the point of this whole thing? I am not sure. I really don't think there is one. I guess, if anything it is that to see naked breasts in France don't go to the beach in Marseille, go to the pool in Paris. What do you want from me? I saw that article and wanted an excuse to talk about boobs. Sorry.

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