The Guardian

Sunbathing topless should be a pleasure we can all enjoy | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Younger women are covering up on the beach for fear of harassment, suggests a recent report. That’s a sad state of affairs
‘Since Brigitte Bardot became famed for it on Riviera beaches in the 1960s, topless sunbathing on the Côte d’Azur has occupied a romantic place in my imagination.’ Bardot (centre) with Kirk Douglas in Cannes. Photograph: Bob Hawkins/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

According to a survey of 5,000 women by the French Institute for Public Opinion, the number who regularly sunbathe topless has fallen sharply over the past three years, from 29% to 19%. Digging into the figures, it emerges that the #MeToo movement has been an influence, with women between 18 and 25 citing harassment and ogling. No doubt the fear of unwanted photographs ending up on the internet also plays a part in persuading young women to keep their bikini tops on when they go to the beach.

It’s all. For me and other women growing up in a culture of British discomfort with all things bodily, these confident French women in Cannes or St Tropez seemed glamorous and worldly.

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