It’s the hottest day of the year. Radio 1 did a special sunshine mix this morning, summer is officially here. Because of the heat I thought it would be nice for Raff to have a day without his nappy. Even though he quite blatantly weed at the top of the stairs twice, I let him continue to wander around the house without covering up. And all was fine until a cry for help came from the kitchen. It was Andrew. He’d just walked in on Raffy, who had pooed on the kitchen floor and was trying to carry the mess and put it in the bin. Now although Raffy, Andrew, myself, the kitchen floor and bin were covered in excrement, I couldn’t help but see this as a tiny victory for dirty feminism; my son had taken full responsibility for his own shit and tried to clean it up. And while it’s very tempting to segue into comparisons of the David/Nigel/Boris variety, I’d much rather focus on the fact that my one year old son is trying his best with the housework. Also, I’d rather talk about boobs than grubby, gurning tits.
We have just got back from holiday, and because I haven’t been on a beach holiday abroad for years something struck me. Hardly any women sunbathe topless anymore. I remember reading something ages ago about this being a feminist thing which seemed so utterly stupid that I didn’t bother reading past the introduction. I also read something about it being about wrinkles and sun damage which is also nonsense. Breasts take up less than 10% of the body, and we’re quite happy to expose the remaining 90% + to the sun. But yesterday I read an excellent piece by Lauren Laverne on The Pool website which talks about body confidence. She talks about a Dove survey of 10,500 females from 13 different countries, which shows that 85% of women and 79% of girls don’t take part in sport or important social activities because they feel so bad about the way they look.
And whilst I don’t think I’m always much better myself (I had a conversation a few hours ago about how the doctor’s scales must be wrong as they made me seem too light), I would like to talk about these statistics and the decline in topless sunbathing. I think they correlate very neatly (conveniently too – it’s obviously way too hot to do any proper research or spout anything other than unsubstantiated opinion.)
We’re covering up because we don’t like what we see. As our society becomes ever more obsessed with physical perfection, ever more bombarded with images of porn/Kardashian type bodies, we’re falling dramatically out of love with our own, real ones.
A bikini top is sexier than a bare chest in that it makes the breasts something naughty, that should be covered up. Bear calls my bikini top a ‘boobie guarder’ which isn’t that far off the mark. Every time I wear it, it feels a bit wrong. It feels like a step backwards that I feel the need to cover up. And that the women around me feel the same.
For me, to go topless or not is the difference between sexy and sensual. Sexy is hard, fast, shiny, tried-for, superficially naughty; sensual is soft, natural, languid, deliciously potent.
Though maybe I’m just an old hippy.
We went for a walk one day on holiday, along the coast. As we threaded through a tiny beach I saw a young, blonde woman on the sand with her three young, blonde, beautiful children. She was naked from the waist up but half draped in a blanket, breastfeeding her youngest child, making no attempt to cover herself. And as she was doing this she was reading a book (probably Rousseau, she looked the type). The whole scene could not have been more nonchalant, natural or chic, the perfect antidote to the garish, Rich-Kids-of-Instagram-two-piece-invasion. Perhaps if one of those 79% of girls who feel bad about their bodies had seen her, they’d grow up to have a little more confidence in how splendid a thing the female body really is.