Thursday, June 7, 2007

Rules of Going Topless

It comes not as a surprise to anyone when I tell them that I am rather under endowed in the chest category. It is clear for all to see. Or not see, depending on whether you are the "glass is half empty" type. This fact became rather apparent to me around the age of eleven when all the other girls were growing breasts and I was known as "Ironing Board" or "Mosquito Bites" and my bra was snapped constantly (by someone who is now my friend so I won't name him) just to laugh at the fact that I was wearing one for no reason. Ha. Ha. Ha.

I did everything I could to make them grow. Vitamins. Exercise. Enhancement creams. Prayers. Daily pep talks. I don't have to tell you whether any of these methods worked.

Looking back, I am a bit thankful that I did not have them. I think my embarrassment was the only thing that prevented me from starring in Girls Gone Wild videos on Spring Break. Thank you little boobies for giving me modesty. By college I'd say I've come to terms with them with credit to, but not solely due to, boyfriends who've told me I'm perfect the way I am. In the hot summer I'm able to go braless, free of pain, dirty looks, and unwanted attention. Oh the freedom.

I've traveled quite a lot which means I've been on beaches where people go topless and it is not a big deal. It's not a big deal at nude beaches like Sandy Hook because it's a nude beach and more so because it is mainly pale, old, and dangly men who are nude. Nothing to gawk at. In fact, it's better to steer clear. But on the beaches of Thailand, or Italy, or most recently the Dominican, women of all ages and sizes go topless and it is just an amazing concept to me. Yes, I am aware that for most Europeans topless tanning is the norm. But for someone who is not European, i.e. me, the concept of topless tanning being a norm fascinates me. I mean, by the age of five I was screeching at my mom and scrambling for a towel if she had entered my room while I was changing.

Also, in countries such as Italy and Dominican Republic the men are known for ogling women. I was catcalled and followed the moment I stepped off the plane and that was when I was fully clothed. And I got the same thing when I was in a bathing suit. So what would happen if I went topless? I didn't see any topless women being catcalled or ogled. Is there some unwritten rule that when women are topless that is the only time you can't stare and blow kisses?

There were all types of women from countries such as France, Italy, and Germany who were topless. Some were tan and built like runway models. Some were scorched red and resembled the Venus of Willendorf. They were mothers, girlfriends, and prepubescent daughters. I was fascinated by all of them, especially the Venuses. I worked out for weeks to get my body bikini ready. Some of these women looked like they've never exercised a day in their life and they had no shame, no insecurities. Is that something learned from their society as well?

All in all, I realized that I must have ogled these women more than the men on the island. I was intrigued by their lack of self-conscious but also by the boobs themselves. I don't see real boobs very often. My brother no longer lives with me and I no longer live with my boyfriend so there aren't many men's magazines lying around. And mine certainly don't count as real boobs. By real I mean in existence. I didn't mean to stare, but I did. I even said to my travel companion, "Wow! Look at those bongos!" And as a woman she replied, "Did you just refer to breasts as bongos?" Yes, I did because that was the only word to describe them. Her nipples were the entire circumference of my chest area! Saucers they were!

BUT as fun as all of this was and as open minded as I'd like to say I am, I have rules. Rules that need to be followed. I understand you are European and you've been playing on the beach topless since you were in diapers (or not in diapers since you weren't wearing anything at all) and it is yet another thing that makes you just oh so sophisticated and separates you from all the uncultured, restricted, body conscious Americans. With all that understood these rules are all I ask for us to be able to share the beach in American-Everyone Else/ Topless-Non Topless bliss.

1) Do not refer to your boobs. This means that with me or your boyfriend or anyone else you are not allowed at anytime to point at your boobs and make a comment or conversation. For example, this is not allowed: "Honey, look at this (pointing to boob). Is this a hair growing out of my nipple?"

2) Do not lift your legs while you are lounging on your beach chair. I am trying to look at you as just a normal person who is tanning but when you lift your leg straight up to apply suntan lotion or to scratch or to look at you kneecaps you are exposing much more and now you are not topless tanning, you are naked with your legs open. Eek.

3) Do not talk to your dad or your teenage son. Weirdness!

4) DO NOT pop a zit or pick at peeling skin on your chest! Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! There was this one foul girl who violated not one but all of these offenses and I have never been so grossed out and appalled.

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