The Germans may or may not have preferred to march in the shade, but the French proclivity for lolling topless in the sun is no chauvinistic joke.
Right after the first female doffed her bikini bra in 1960s Saint Tropez, such exhibitionism became a point of naked national pride. The smug French love contrasting their relaxed attitudes about public nudity with the supposed prudery of Americans, who—just a friendly reminder—saved their asses (and tits) during World War II.
(That’s the thanks Yanks get for bleeding all over a few of their ally’s less inviting beaches. From enemy lines to enemy tan lines in one generation, and with no help from “topless” French females of another kind, either.)
It’s tempting to snark that, had those temperature-controlled Nazis been victorious, the monokini fad would never have, as it were, taken off. Au contraire! Rudi Gernreich, the (cough) Austrian-born clothing designer who created the topless swimsuit in 1963, likes to say that, as a teenager, “he had fled the country with his family to escape Hitler, who had banned nudity.”
You see, “many Austrians … were big proponents of exercising and frolicking in the buff,” and Gernreich “regarded any action against bearing [sic] it all as fascist and oppressive.”
Thing is, the 1936 edition of Hans Surén’s Humans and Sun—“a collection of nude photographs that includes lyrical praise of the male member, instructions for yoga-like exercises and even naked skiing”—was one of the Third Reich’s best sellers.
The im Haus SS rag Das Schwarze Korps promoted the tome as an ideal Yuletide gift; it was even “protected as official party literature.”
In fact (contra Gernreich’s “Hitler’s first victims!” cover story), when the Nazis took power, “nudists achieved official state recognition fairly quickly.” (Yes, they were later banned, but still later, they reinvented themselves as “sports groups” and were subsequently decriminalized.)
And who were among the biggest boosters of bare beach boobs in 21st-century France? Why, the “far right” National Front, who not too long ago put out an anti-immigration poster contrasting topless bathers with women in burqas.
And whose name is inevitably invoked as the girl who started it all? Brigitte Bardot, a high-profile Lepenist.
See? My brief time on the Left wasn’t entirely wasted. I’m still good at branding almost anything “fascist,” as a faintly amusing, masturbatory thought experiment, if allotted sufficient time, energy, and bandwidth.
Since the Left is forever hunting down fresh nouns to denounce, I’m surprised they haven’t gotten around to (seriously) condemning seminude sunning as right-wing by association, during one of their regular fits of Chomskyesque anti-corporate Hugo Bossyness.
Instead, topless sunbathing is on the decline, and those “progressive” human toothaches have, for once, nothing to do with it.
From what I can make out, topless women are ruining toplessness for other topless women.
The sun is setting on the Gallic bump-ire, and, according to French Elle, the cover-up culprits include the “‘pornified’ perception of topless women,” skin cancer worries, and, well, far left “activists” FEMEN, whose bare-breasted protests have “politicized” the practice. Or something.
Whatever the reason, the percentage of young French women sunbathing seins nus has now drooped to an oddly appropriate two.
As for the old ones—wasn’t it Sartre who declared that hell is other people’s saggy jugs? See, while younger, more health- (and social media-) conscious gals are keeping their tops tied, the soixante-huitards are still baring it (almost) all. Typically, they’re clinging to yet another symbol of their generation’s old-fashioned “modernity” and low-risk “courage.”
Much as I despise overregulation, breasts really are one—or is that two?—of those objects that should come stamped with “best before” dates.
Since it’s French and all, the women’s liberation “philosophy” behind toplessness never made sense anyhow: “I’m NOT a sex object, as you (and everyone else) can plainly see—and see and see—by my awesome naked boobies!”
Anyhow, Elle is skirting the issue. Being a chronic right-winger, I’m positive that France’s metastasizing Muslim population is mostly to blame for the demise of this once-proud cultural touchstone—precisely because infidel magazines like Elle would never voice such a “fascist” opinion in the first place.
Not that anybody in Paris cares what I think. They aren’t even reading this. They may leave their tops on these days, but I hear they still take August off.
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