Why French women are abandoning topless sunbathing

Ben McPartland
Ben McPartland - [email protected]
Why French women are abandoning topless sunbathing
Photo: AFP

Young women in France are far less likely to sunbathe topless than previous generations, a new study has revealed - which points to various factors behind the tendency to stay covered up.


The survey by respected French polling agency Ifop has confirmed that going topless in France is steadily going out of fashion.

Only 19 percent of French women under the age of 50 say they regularly sunbathe topless in France compared to 29 percent three years ago and 43 percent of women back in 1984.

"Our study confirms that the practice of wearing a monokini (the bottom half of a bikini) has plummeted in France," said Ifop's François Kraus.

For Kraus the reasons for the decline in the number of women deciding to sunbathe semi-naked on France's beaches is partly due to the health risks of the sun on the skin which have been well publicised in recent years.

But that's not the only reason.

"For people under 25, it is the fear of leering eyes and for 51 percent of them it's the fear of being the object of an attack (verbal, physical or sexual). We can talk about a MeToo effect at the beach," he said.

Another reason women are keeping the top halves of their bikinis on, according to the study, was to avoid negative comments or looks about their physique.

In an interview with Liberation newspaper researcher Janine Mossuz-Lavau detailed a number of reasons for the trend to remain covered in France.

"For the women of the 60s and 70s going to the beach topless was a way to show that they were liberated from patriarchy, sexual restraint," she said.

READ ALSO: Au naturel - The rules for taking your clothes off in France

"But for the current generation, women consider themselves sufficiently liberated to no longer have to prove it.

"It has become part of their daily life so they don't have to prove it.

"I have found in my surveys, but also by observing people on the beaches and at the edges of pools, that teenage girls do not like to show their bodies so much. They sometimes wear one-piece swimsuits more often than older generations.

"This tends to be the fashion."

While the researcher agrees that the fear of being pestered dissuades some women in France from going topless, this has always been the case even when the "monokini" was at the height of fashion.

"Some women do not dare to go to the beach topless because they are embarrassed by men's eyes and fear being bothered," she said.

"But this has always been the case since the 60s and 70s."

The fear among younger women of being snapped topless by someone with a smartphone and having the pictured shared among their social circles may also put many off, Mossuz-Lavau said.

The survey also threw up another interesting stat that goes against what the stereotype.

"The main point this survey reveals is that contrary to what one might believe, French women are more "modest" than their neighbors," writes the site which first published the study.

While 22 percent of French women say they have sunbathed topless, the figure was far higher in Germany where 34 percent of women had gone topless and far behind Spain where 48 percent of women say they had removed the top half of the bikini on beaches.

In Italy the number of women who had gone topless was 15 percent, less than in Britain where 19 percent of women had opted for the "monokini" at some point.

But the decline in the number of women going topless is reflected throughout Europe - apart from Spain where the trend remains consistently strong.

Within France itself it's no surprise perhaps to find out that women in the south, particularly region of Provence-Alpes Côte d'Azur are far more likely (36 percent) to go topless than those in the north (just 7 percent in the Hauts-de-France).

Presumably the weather plays a small role in those regional differences.




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Anonymous 2019/07/24 10:36
Two nudist stories in 1 day - slow day for The Local!

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