French women are giving up topless sunbathing because of smartphones

Paris, France - Women in France are far more liberal when it comes to how much clothes they wear, or so a common stereotype about France's beach culture goes. But now they're covering up more because of fears someone might take a picture of them and share it online.

The number of women who feel safe sunbathing topless in France has dropped dramatically in recent years (stock image).
The number of women who feel safe sunbathing topless in France has dropped dramatically in recent years (stock image).  © 123RF/ dolgachov

France's permissive culture of topless sunbathing appears to be coming to an end in the era of the smartphone camera, according to a new survey.

Bathing topless is more unpopular than it has been for decades, the newspaper Le Parisien reported, referring to a survey by the opinion research institute Ifop in which many women said they are afraid of being exposed by photos on social media.

According to the survey, only 19% of French women are inclined to go into the water topless, compared to 34% 12 years ago.

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In the under-50 age group, the proportion of women inclined to swim topless fell from 43% in 1984 to only 16% now.

The decline has been continuing for years, the newspaper writes.

According to the survey, every second woman under 25 fears becoming a victim of physical or sexual violence or being stared at by men while topless bathing.

Older generation upset that the freedoms they worked for are declining

Modern women can't be sure that they're not being photographed on the beach given how prevalent smartphone use is (stock image).
Modern women can't be sure that they're not being photographed on the beach given how prevalent smartphone use is (stock image).  © 123RF/ dolgachov

Almost every second young woman is also afraid that a photo of her will end up on the internet if she takes off her top in public places. such as beaches.

"By not showing themselves topless, these young women seem to have internalized the risks that weigh on all those who try to free themselves from the modesty rules imposed on women in public places," Ifop study director François Kraus told Le Parisien.

While younger women interviewed by the newspaper mainly reported discomfort after taking off their tops, one retired teacher said the development was "sad and frustrating."

"We, the old people, fought to give women all the options: Abortion, taking the pill, working without the man's permission, including the right to show one's body as the gentlemen do," she added.

Cover photo: 123RF/ dolgachov

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