Younger French Women Reject Topless Sunbathing
Once-familiar beach sight is no more, says Elle magazine
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 9, 2014 4:36 PM CDT
Sunbathers set up on the right bank of the Seine river in Paris in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

(Newser) – France's summer is fast becoming a memory, and so is one of its iconic beach sights: the topless woman. As few as 2% of French women under 35 now say they want to bare their breasts, according to an Elle magazine poll this summer. It's a far cry from the once-ubiquitous scenes of semi-nudity on the French Riviera, epitomized by 1960s blond bombshell Brigitte Bardot. "It's seen as vulgar. People are more prudish these days," explains 60-year old Muriel Trazie, keeping her breasts out of the public eye while sunning herself on Paris Plages, the French capital's summer beach.

When France stood up to a conservative backlash and refused to ban topless bathing in the 1970s, wearing the "monokini"—the bikini bottom without the top—became a symbol of Gallic pride. Elle claims health concerns are the chief cause of toplessness' new unpopularity, with increased awareness of skin cancer. But a 22-year-old male beach monitor says another factor is the digital world. "I see lots of old men loitering around here," he explains. "I have to stop them from taking photos on their phones. It happens all the time."