Nude beaches.

When posting every Tuesday and Thursday becomes a myth.

Whilst we hope you missed us on Tuesday, uploading a post was the last thing on our minds. Out of respect for the families of those affected by the Manchester attack and really, out of respect for human life, we chose not to post. Our hearts, prayers, thoughts and every inch of our beings are with those who are going through unimaginable suffering.

On Monday night as the events in Manchester were unfolding, I was on my way back to London after having spent a few days in splendid Barcelona. What can I say? This trip taught me a thing or two.

Firstly, sun screen in a sham – either that or my skin simply refuses to have normal reactions to normal products. The second thing it taught me?

The meaning of a real woman. To put it shortly – tits out and 0 fu**s given.

My mother and I stayed at a lovely hotel near the beach. Naturally, we decided that we will spend one day at the beach and sunbathe. To my immense pleasure I discovered that the beach closest to us was a nudist beach. Honestly, you cannot imagine how excited I got.

Of course I expected to see a sea of naked bodies and again of course, this was not the case. We arrived to see people in their bikinis, shorts and tank tops. As I was losing all hope that I might witness bold, unconventional human beings expose their bare bodies to the burning rays of the lovely Catalan sun, ta-dah! There she was: a woman, most probably in her 40s, with her bare breasts. Before I knew it there was another one and another one and another one.

What shocked me was – no, not the bare boobs – their age. None of them were ‘young’ women. For some reason, I assumed and I expected to see topless women aged in their twenties. Apparently, we are not rebellious/brave/comfortable enough.

Whilst I tried (very hard) not to stare, I noticed a few things:

  1. These women were accompanied by men whom seemed to be their lovers/partners.
  2. These men were extremely comfortable with their women’s choice to expose their breasts.

There they were: real women and real men on a beach in Barcelona.

Of course all of these conclusions were largely based on what could be classified as assumptions. For all I know, they might have had a huge row right before coming out to the beach and I would never know – let’s just say that judging by the level of PDA (public display of affection) and their relaxed manner, that scenario seems highly unlikely.

Naturally, I began to wonder: do I want to be braless right now? And if I do, would I actually go ahead and do it, whilst being in a relationship?

These questions destroyed any chance I had of napping in the sun. Instead I spent hours hosting a debate in my head in hope to find the answer. Do you want to know what the answer was? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway. I don’t know.

I couldn’t figure out if my relationships status impacted my decision or not. By the way, I did not go braless if that’s what you’re wondering.

There was a side of me – I can’t quite tell if it was instinct or maybe I’m scared to admit that it was my instinct – arguing vehemently that yes, this is what I want. I am finally reaching a stage where I am comfortable with my body and with accepting that I am unconventional. I am different, I am a rebel and I do not care what others think of me.

This side of my psyche came to the correct conclusion that whether I do go topless or not, is a decision I make independently and one that my partner should accept because… hey, my body, my say. If that makes you uncomfortable, then we’re probably not right for each other anyway.

Some people (maybe men) might label this version of me ‘a bitch’. A label – and insult- that would be completely incorrect. A woman who might have decided to sunbathe nude without consulting her partner should not be called a bitch. No woman should be called a bitch, period. Before we become halves of a couple, we are individual human beings with wants and needs of our own. Before we dedicate our beings to making the relationship work and to keeping our partners happy, we have to do what makes US happy. If that means showing our boobs to the sun and a bunch of strangers we most likely will never see again, then guess what: we are entitled to do so.

Now, I also have a calculated side, which most of the time I could not be more grateful for. It allows me to remain rational and objective and subsequently, make “good decisions”. Well, in this case, this side kind of took the piss. It just kind of complicated things.

The impulsive me would have just stripped off and enjoyed the sun, free and careless, without thinking about the consequences. The rational me has this obsession with analysing different scenarios, calculating possible outcomes and of course, deducing as many consequences as possible. How severe will the outcomes be? How many people will they affect? Who will they affect? How much do those whom my actions will affect matter to me? On a side note, I really wish people could spend five minutes in my brain. I’m sometimes surprised that I can even form intelligible sentences. 

Anyway, it was with the help of rational me that I realised this: despite my very probable desire to be topless in that moment, despite my burning belief that I am entitled to make that decision on my own without being insulted, blamed or punished for it, I owed it to my loved one to at least give him a heads up.

As a very honest person I don’t particularly fancy keeping secrets – it really ruins surprises, for real. So if I had decided to go ahead and sunbathe topless, I would have told him. There is no other option for me. Yes, it would have been easy to hide. Yes, it would have been less hassle. But as much as I sometimes hate it, lying is simply not who I am.

But if I had gone ahead with what was probably my instinct and sunbathed topless, I’m pretty sure that even if he accepted my decision, it would have made him feel insignificant.

After all, when you get in a relationship, you make a conscious decision that your choices will impact your partner and naturally, a degree of limitation arises. It doesn’t mean that you cannot do what you want. No. It just means that you have to take into consideration the other person’s feelings.

In this scenario, it wasn’t how my decision would have made my boyfriend feel that stopped me from following my instinct – oh look, it’s near the end of the post and I’m admitting it was instinct. It was how he would have felt if I made my decision without as little as telling him that I am that person – sunbathing nude or topless is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is not something that is common – not yet, anyway. Not where he’s from. Not where I’m from – although, I do remember seeing topless women on the beach in Romania as a child.

Had I realised that we were going to a nudist beach the night before and had my brain done its little thing at that point, then I would have been able to raise the issue with my beloved. I hope that the conversation would not have resulted in an argument and regardless of that, I would have  stuck to my decision. I would have sunbathed braless and with a clean conscience. Why? Because I cannot conceive a world where I am not the sole decision maker in matters of mi cuerpo – that’s ‘my body’ in Spanish.

So, this begs the question: am I a real woman?

I think so. Don’t get me wrong – a real woman is not one that is comfortable sunbathing braless. I think a real woman is a woman comfortable to make a decision about her body and sticking by it regardless of the pressures put on her by others. A woman comfortable with her insecurities and relentless in upholding the autonomy she has over her own body. The process through which you discover that you are the only person who gets to have a say about your body and gathering the mental strength to stick up for yourself are factors that help shape you into a real woman.

So, no. I did not follow my instinct, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t one day. It doesn’t mean I’m not a real woman. I know who I am, I know what I want and I know how to remain true to myself. Just like I know that I didn’t want to be selfish and hurt others more than I have to. Okay, stop aww-ing and aaah-ing – let’s not get emotional.

Love

Ilinca xo

 

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