Culture matters, when it comes to just how much skin to show on the beach. Being an American, I tend to cover up quite a lot, until I am ready to get into the pool or romp on the beach. If there are topless beaches in America, I have never visited one. I assumed that Portugal also was not topless, but over the past several days, Douglas and I have seen topless bathers and some with even less on, if you get my drift! Of course, naked children have turned some heads even here! Yet, the old saying, “Flaunt it if you have it,” is not always good advice.
It is fine with me if people choose to show off their bodies, as long as it does not impinge on my enjoyment of the beach. I do not consider myself a prude in any way, although there are limits to what I will alllow for myself, mainly because gravity has been at work in many areas of my body, and I don’t want to cause anyone to run screaming for the hills. So, I don’t flaunt anything, mostly because I don’t have it anymore! As you can see from my picture, I am already pretty well tanned, so I don’t need a lot of skin showing. So, what happened yesterday on the beach was kind of funny.
Douglas and I were walking to find a place to sit on the beach and read. We had decided against one place because there was a woman getting tanned all over, and as I wondered how she was going to put her top on without showing her assets, we decided to get moving. We finally found a place, and we rolled out our mats, prepared to settle in for a few hours. When we chose the spot, there was one other group of people near us, what appeared to be a family of a man, his wife, and teenage daughter. The daughter was playing in the water with a bikini on and the man and woman were laying down, somewhat covered by towels.
As I started to read my Kindle, the woman stood up, and my mouth dropped, for she was nude from the waist up! I was staring so, trying to decide if indeed she was braless, when Douglas told me to stop staring! I said to him, “She is topless.” Douglas said that he was trying not to look! But, the woman must have wanted people to see, because she started to walk up and down the beach in front of everybody, and she kept coming past us. She was quite proud of her breasts, and it was obvious that she wanted to be sure that every man on the beach had the opportunity to be captivated by them.
Poor Douglas, he was determined NOT to look, and I think she was just as determined to get him to notice her. He told me that when he looked at her face, the woman seemed to be upset because he was the only male out there that was not appreciating her exhibition. As she came near us once again, I looked at her and she looked at me, and I said in English, “Put them away!” I don’t think she understood my English, but she may have understood my body language, because she did not pass our way again.
It must be alright to be topless in Portugal, because no one came to ask her to cover up, and as I said earlier, there were a few couples with even less on, and I tended to try not to look at them. It’s not really a big deal, except that if you want to go topless or even full-blown naked, respect other people by not insisting that they look at you. Sit down or lay down and get tanned, but give everyone else the space to enjoy themselves without having their private space impinged on.
You don’t always have to flaunt it, even if you have it. I think that the woman had some insecurities, and she believed that unless every man on the beach was appreciative of her body, then maybe there was something wrong with her. What really bothered me was that her daughter was there, and I don’t think that it’s a good lesson for young girls that what’s most important is that other people find their bodies attractive. Let me tell you, there were many young men who stared at the mother, some so much so that I thought they might need a doctor.
I may seem old-fashioned or overly religious, but I am not really. It is fine with me what little people wish to wear. I just ask that if you see that people are not enthused about looking at you, then walk away and leave them alone. Don’t attempt to make anyone do what they feel is inappropriate. I told Douglas that I understood that he was a man, and that I was not going to “go off” on him for looking at her, but I am thankful that he respected me enough not to do so.
Five more days until we leave for home, and every day seems to bring some new observations about human thinking and attitudes, both our own and those of others around us. It is why traveling is so wonderful, for you learn that culture is a powerful entity in our lives. What we are taught is right or wrong in our homes, schools, or churches influence how we act and think. Travel teaches us not to impose those beliefs on others and to respect each person for the unique and amazing human being that they are. While I respected her right to go topless, I wanted her to respect Douglas’s right not to look at her. Bless his heart!