A police spokesman on a public beach at Anzio south of Rome recently reported that police were stopped by a mother of two sons who was angry at a topless sunbather and "the way" she was applying her suntan lotion. The mom said she asked the woman to cover her breasts because her young sons aged 12 and 14 were admiring the sunbather and the boys were "troubled" by what she was doing. The sunbather refused, a complaint was filed, and the case will probably go nowhere.
This is pretty funny coming from, I assume, a European mother on an Italian beach where women can and do go topless from time to time. Wow, is the Puritan mentality of America hitting European beaches, too?
My family just had a similar run-in with a freakishly prudish American mother on a beach here -- and all bathing suits were on!
While celebrating a family reunion and my grandfather's 90th birthday, a few of the women in my family and three of the kids headed down to the beach in Lake Tahoe after a 5-mile hike around the lovely Emerald Bay. We relaxed and chatted at the water's edge and a few of my family members were smart enough to wear bathing suits under their hiking clothes, so they were getting some sun.
Unfortunately, there was a small interaction with a woman who thought she owned the beach and asked us to move out of "her view" and we refused. It was lame.
Then something compelled another woman, totally uninvolved in the discussion about the "view," to come up to us after we had moved up into the shade. This mom told us she believed the other mom, who she didn't know or speak with, actually had another problem -- and that was the revealing nature of my teen cousin's bathing suit! Huh?
Let me tell you. I was sitting right next to my cousin (yes, we were just sitting, lying back a little, not doing a Baywatch-style run or anything close to that delicious). She was wearing a bikini and yes, she took her straps down to avoid tan lines. But there was NOTHING crazy or even overly revealing going on there.
The woman said, "I have two young daughters and they're impressionable. And I have to say, my husband was even having trouble not looking." She even went on to describe how afraid she was that her family might see an exposed nipple.
I felt scolded and weird, especially since I was one of the "moms" being chided. My sister-in-law even pointed out, "Uh, my daughter's right here with us" to make her see we are moms too and that we obviously saw nothing worrisome going on.
The worst part was probably the tone she used with all of us. A syrupy sweet condescending tone that said, "I'm going to let you naive and brazen whores in on a little something about the way civilized world works."
Like the mother in Italy, this mom was worried about her kids feeling "troubled" over seeing a young woman's body. As for her husband, sounds like he's the one who is "troubled." Not my teen-aged cousin. The whole scene was just uncalled for and embarrassing. Her remarks made me blush far more than anything I was seeing on the beach.
What on earth? Since when does going to the beach in a bikini -- not a thong, not even a string bikini -- open you up to prudish mother criticism and judgment? Keep your opinions to yourself or get off the beach!
What do you think? Was this woman out of line, pushing her prudish agenda on innocent victims? Or do you think more bikini-clad beach-goers need to be schooled about modesty?
Image via The Consumerist/Flickr