While the male body is private, the female body is political. While it is not a problem for men to sunbathe in public without a T-Shirt, Gabrielle Lebreton had to leave the playground with her 5-year-old son, because she refused to put on a bra or a T-Shirt. It really was a shock for me to learn that this happened in Berlin, Germany, in summer 2021!
The security of the playground even called the police, because Gabrielle Lebreton did not see why anybody should be bothered about her naked upper body. The argument of the security guy was that children could see her bosom and might be troubled, not understanding that breasts are there to nourish babies in the first place. A man is telling a women what he thinks is appropriate for her to wear! We still have a long way to go. Lebreton published her experience and soon a demonstration was held for equal treatment of naked bodies.
“No nipple is free until all nipples are free”
This was the motto of that bicycle demonstration. All of the women and non-binary persons rode on their bicycles with naked upper bodies, while most men wore bras and bikini tops. The demonstration with naked upper bodies was legally permitted by the Christian Democratic Union, CDU. The protesters hoped to show how sexualised the female body still is, and that there is much yet to be solved on the way to equal rights.
Too naked and not naked enough
In contrast to Germany, France issued an burkini ban in mid 2016. Women seemed to wear too many and the wrong clothes at the beach and were forced by the police to take their clothes off. The burkini ban was lifted after a court ruling just a few weeks after it was enacted.
In the 1920s, women in some states in the USA got arrested for wearing short swimsuits in public. At least men with a naked upper body had been banned from beaches as well in most USA states until 1937, since hairy bodies reminded people of gorillas, which was inappropriate to see in public.
In tropical countries, nakedness is mostly seen as much more natural. In Bali, the upper body is sacred, and does not need to be veiled. There are postcards with topless women and men in their every-day-life, e.g. at the market, walking down the street and in the temple. When the Dutch invaded Bali, women were forced to cover their bosoms. When there are no foreigners around, Balinese women often still enjoy having their upper bodies exposed to the elements.
We all begin our lives naked. Soon after, clothes start to play an important role. Clothes for girls and boys are different, in colour and in shape. Women had to fight for the right to wear trousers. Men in the west, beside Scots, don’t usually wear skirts. To give a serious impression, many women in politics wear trousers.
Ask your body
What does our body want though? Does your body really like to be dressed with long trousers, socks and closed shoes on a hot summer day? Or would your body rather enjoy the wind and the sun on the skin? Do we really have freedom and control over our bodies? What would be needed to be able to wear whatever we feel like wearing, or not wearing? How can we create more choices and freedom around our bodies? I hope one day we will live on this beautiful planet with acceptance, appreciation and love for our wonderful bodies.
Beauty. Lifestyle. Women’s Empowerment.
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