MadridMan: Topless sunbathing in Madrid
Other nationalities might gawk at topless sunbathing, but the Spaniards are mostly indifferent. Madridman discusses Spain's tolerance for nudity compared to the US.
What a country, eh? Okay, I realise topless sunbathing is not exclusive to Madrid, but there is where I have most of my experience – right in the city!!
Most weekdays I go to the gym in hopes of staving off the effects of my sedentary existence in front of the computer. I spend a good 40 minutes of aerobic exercises on the treadmill and elliptical machine and then weight machines (I don't like free weights. I ain't no dumbbell). That's all well and good.
But my gym also has an grassy, private outdoor sunbathing area just outside the window of the exercise room. And here’s the funny part… If this was Columbus, Ohio USA, the window would be lined with men (and some women) trying to shoulder through the crowd to get a peek at the topless women below.
But noooo! This is Europe. Here, nary a man nor woman is against the window to gawk at the sights below – unusual sites they are for my United States' eyes. Europeans, well, I know men admire the naked female form, and it no-doubt gives them certain urges, but here seeing such things are nothing out of the ordinary.
Oh sure, occasionally a couple of young men will linger at the window, grinning, elbowing each other while gazing across the group of 5–20 women below, 50 percent of them topless, but the leering doesn’t last very long. Sometimes I find myself near the window for some particular exercise machine and I too will look over the group. The phrases, 'Wow. I can’t believe my eyes' and 'You chose wisely, Grasshopper' fill my Temporal Lobe – when they can get past the Frontal Lobe, that is. But after an 'acceptable' amount of time I’ll walk away, fearful the gym’s attendant will approach me with a scolding.
I always knew that topless sunbathing was common in Spain as I’d seen it many times on the beaches of San Sebastián-Donostia when visiting there for Semana Santa/Holy Week several years ago. But to have topless sunbathers outside my gym’s window, so common and casual, and on a daily basis in summer, is a real eye-opener.
Back in 1995, my first visit to Madrid, I vividly remember seeing TV advertisements for shampoo and body lotion, both using nearly-totally-nude models in the commercials, full-frontal nudity from the waist up and full back nudity too. But little by little, as time has passed, fewer and fewer of these commercials are broadcast for whatever reason. Now, really, you never see nudity on TV commercials – although you do casually see it on TV news programs showing sunbathers on beaches during the summer vacation season. I imagine men aren’t jumping out of their couches when seeing topless sunbathers on the TV news!
It’s also quite common to pass newsstands on the sidewalks and see, right on the front of the newsstand, a magazine with a topless, large-breasted woman on its cover. My first reaction is, 'My God! What if the children see that?!' Then I realise that I’m in Europe where the female form is not something to be hidden nor for which to be ashamed. After all, both men and women have breasts, don’tcha know! This is equality at its definition.
MadridMan is the online persona of an American living in Madrid since 2005. He started his Spain Travel & Tourism company, Martin Media, in 2006 and enjoys living - and sharing - life as a tourist on a daily basis.
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