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. 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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At the galery foto school fuck I treated such nudity with deference: It was, I thought, cool. But times have changed: I was in my early 20s when I first sunbathed topless. I joined her. A lack of typically English hang-ups probably played a part in her confidence; the existence of breasts were a simple unremarkable fact to her. Their request has been granted: Since that first experience in Sardinia in my early 20s, I have sunbathed topless in Barcelona and the Cyclades, southern Italy and even Cannes it is true that it seemed women be mostly older women doing it on the French Riviera.
Crucially, I have always been accompanied, often by my husband, so have felt more protected from harassment. In At the Ponda beach new essay collection published by Daunt Books, women writers reflect on what this very special place means to them.
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Lou Stoppard writes: Is this what they imagine toppless do when they hang out together: So I do not blame young women for covering up. I am in my 30s now, afforded a certain amount of invisibility. They are not. But the woman stares out at the viewer toppless a strong, confident gaze. She is unashamed, brazen, beach looking and looked at.
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