The year was 1994 and I was yet to hit puberty but I already knew my very distant future breasts (not future in a fun rocket boots way, they don't transport me anywhere or shoot laser beams sadly, future in the time sense) were now expected to be hoiked up to around ear height. Now it's 2014 and we remain in wonder of the breast. And why not? They are a pretty interesting body part...
The bosom may be revealed in a discreet yet titillating (ha-ha. Tit.) manner and the owner must be gracious about requests to get 'em out. If said bosom is got out then the audience must both salivate and disapprove. If said bosom remains in place the audience must both applaud and disapprove. It is feminist to keep your bosom covered. It is feminist to keep your bosom uncovered.
Why am I talking about breasts? Partly to attract hits but also in response to a question posed by the Observer who asked if the decline in topless sunbathing was a "backward step for feminism?"
why does it have to be a case of being proud of your body rather being a bit hot...?
Breast baring is of course not really an exclusively feminist conversation. In fact once it's no longer read as a political statement we will have won. It's a simple as why does it have to be a case of being proud of your body rather being a bit hot and happening not to be a person who is bothered about bra support?
My mother was (and still is, on the sly) a topless sunbather until my sister and I shamed her out of it (we also shamed her out of what I now know to have been a bitchin' grey swimming costume with underwire in it - we said it made her look like Madonna, as though underwire = breast cones) and I suspect our ever complicated bare breast issues have shamed other people from going topless too.
In the Observer Zoe Margolis and Agnes Poirier believe it to be a case of body shaming, as Margolis said in conversation with Poirier: "If women are no longer going topless, I think it has less to do with narcissism and vanity and is more about the impact of body-shaming and a sexist culture which is explicitly critical of female bodies. We need more, rather than less, nudity, I say!"
It is not just shaming from horrible daughters or indiscreet looks from those around you, should you dare to bare, but fear of the new mass voyeur and body police that is social media. How can we present this as an opportunity to make everyone feel better about their bodies and others? How can we negotiate social media without using some ranking system or terrible meme comparing 1950s figures with current supermodel bodies? Rather can we handle presenting and being presented with images based on how much fun a person is having with their bosom braced against the elements?
Only time and bosoms will tell.