The women surrounding us on the beach had one thing in common: they were missing their swimmer tops. And not the least bit shy about walking, running, jumping in the rolling waves of the Mediterranean without being covered.
Going topless on a European beach.
It’s on my bucket list. But, could I really take off my top on a beach loaded with gorgeous bodies? I wasn’t sure.
True, I had come a long way from locking myself in a bathroom in Budapest to change into my swimmers, but taking off my top in public? The thought alone made my heart race and my insecurities about my body swim to the top of my mind.
I knew on the train from Alicante to Barcelona to meet my friends that the moments were counting down until I would be on that beach with those half-naked people.
And, then suddenly, it was the next day and Tina, and her two girlfriends, (Gemma and Jen) and I were walking from the hostel to the beach in Barcelona, meandering through the colorful and tasty market on our way.
D, my mind toyed with me, are you sure you are ready for what you are about to do?? Do you really want to go half-naked in public?
We got to the beach. I dreaded sitting down.
Bucket list … bucket list … bucket list …
The four of us planted ourselves on towels, and to avoid taking my top off, I quickly went into the water to kill time.
Eventually, I had to get out of the water … had to face my fears.
“Let’s do it,” Tina had said, taking off her top.
Then, Gemma did the same.
They were still alive.
Suddenly, it was my turn. I untied the string around my neck and then …
I sat there.
Staring out at the vast sea of people. Most of them only wearing bottoms.
Boobs of all sizes. Bodies of all types.
I remained frozen, hands gripping the bottom of my top in a permanent state of almost-removal.
Inside, I had a fight raging … brain against insecurities.
D, who cares? Look around … no one is judging. No one is even looking. Well, that guy is, but who cares?
I tightened my hold on the bottom of my top.
It’s now or never. Damn, I could sure use a drink. Any other excuses to not take off my top? Nope.
I closed my eyes and pulled my black tankini over my head.
Then, it was off.
The earth didn’t stop moving. A crowd of people didn’t gather around me to point and look at my naked upper-half. Life kept on going and no one even noticed.
I looked down. Yup, there were my boobs … in full view of, oh, everyone. And, it didn’t matter. Instinctively, I went to cover the girls with my arms, but then decided not to.
If I was going to do this, I was going to do this. No cheating.
I lathered some sunscreen on me because the last thing I wanted was sun-burnt bits and laid down.
I closed my eyes.
You know what? It felt absolutely great. Freeing. Liberating. In America, breasts are meant to be covered. Americans by nature are so much more conservative than our European counterparts … but I wasn’t in America. I was in Spain … my favorite place … the place I wanted to make my home … so topless is a part of the culture. And, in order to live somewhere, you have to embrace the culture.
That day, on the beach, I embraced it.
I even got bold and marched myself into the sea to feel the water wash over me in a completely different way.
I emerged a different person, more in touch with myself, more secure of my body, more empowered. It felt great.
I had that smile on my face that I love to have on my face.
I could do this again.
Next time, there will be no hesitation.
In fact, maybe next time will be a nude beach.
In fact, I have every intention of doing it again. And, the next time, I won’t hesitate.