As I have talked about before one of the most common barriers I encounter with busty North American women is that they are ashamed of being busty. This shame stems from social stereotypes and ignorance (and by this I mean the perpetual myth that D cups are huge and boobs have anything to do with your intelligence or morals). In countries where breasts, or all shapes and sizes, are celebrated for their beauty and life giving qualities, there is far less body commentary and criticism. Topless sunbathing is entrenched in the lifestyle of many sunny countries and I feel sure that it must have an effect on the collective perspective on women, breasts and body diversity.
As a family we regularly camped in the south of France when I was a child and the beaches were always full of topless sunbathers, volleyball players and swimmers. I didn't really question it because women of all different ages wandered around quite happily soaking up the sunshine. If you've never experienced a topless beach then it's hard to imagine that's it's actually a very happy, social and relaxed environment. There is no gratuitous ogling or voyeurism. There is a palpable sense of freedom where these women are at ease.
|There was a spirited debate about this pic over on our Facebook page. I think these women 'protected' the rights of breastfeeding Mums and that's just as valuable as securing borders in my opinion.|
The African proverb 'It takes a village to raise a child' is borne out by public breastfeeding in my opinion. A mother who is confined to her home until the child has mastered enough hand-eye co-ordination not to starve will herself be lonely and her child, less socialized. This kind of isolation is ludicrous simply to save the blushes of people who can't distinguish the biological and honourable act of breastfeeding from a 'Girls-Gone-Wild-Esque' breast exposure.
Whilst walking down one of the pedestrianized streets in Barcelona we passed a breastfeeding mother sat on a bench who was chatting to a much older couple while her eldest child chased a bird nearby. This scene was casual, happy, relaxed and quite frankly, healthy. Perhaps if North America introduced some healthy public nudity on their beaches the trickle-down effect would be that breastfeeding mothers could feed in public and feel like part of a community that valued her for raising healthy future generations rather than a shameful outcast.
I wonder whether in countries where the media is so prolific, breasts have been so completely sexualized that we've forgotten what they're for. Their primary function (whether you use them for this or not) is to breastfeed. If our ancestors had got a bit squeamish about a public nipple or two then we would have died out very quickly!
I'm more than happy to get the topless-sunbathing-ball rolling here in Vancouver but I draw the line at whipping my top off in the pouring rain and wind (so that leaves precisely two weeks in August to get the girls out!) I'd love your thoughts on topless sunbathing in general and whether you think there is a link between sociable, warm, outdoor communities and public breastfeeding. xx