Just a few weeks ago, my friend Miss P and I were sitting on the beach at Cala Conta. OK, she was basking in the sun and I was cowering in the shade of the umbrella – regardless, the topic of tan lines came up in conversation. Miss P was visiting from Australia, where it’s fairly standard to sunbathe topless (although most girls are a little modest if a male friend joins the group and will only push their straps down or lie on their stomachs) and she pointed out that the amount of girls in full bikinis in Ibiza was higher than it had ever been before.
When did Ibiza’s beaches become so… PG rated? And why? Regular readers of my blog will know I’m not a big fan of the sun, so having to keep my top on certainly doesn’t bother me. I’ve never been all that fussed about tan lines from my swimsuit because, well, I just don’t tan. I’m also a big fan of fashion, so if I’ve paid for a designer bikini, I tend to want to show off both pieces. It just seems sad to toss the top into your basket where it will sit all day, before being put back on (not to mention covered with a kaftan) for the drive home.
Miss P on the other hand – loves a suntan. She also loves the feeling of sun on her skin – as much of her skin as possible. She’s more than happy to forgo fashion for the sake of an all over tan – mind you, she’s also impossibly hot, and would look smoking in a potato sack. She doesn’t need to rely on carefully cut tops that support or flatter your figure. If I looked like Miss P I’d probably go naked on the beach. Anyway, I digress. Miss P and I were on the beach at Cala Conta, paying particular attention to the amount of girls wearing both pieces of their two-piece bikinis, we started talking about the decline of topless beaches…
As is the case with most conversations on a beach in high summer in Ibiza, we got distracted (OK, there were also mojitos in plastic cups involved) somewhere between tan lines, Tom Ford, and the Pacha Flower Power parade which – while not risqué like many of the club parades used to be – is definitely one of the best ones on the island this year. Our attention then turned to the men on the beach, all of whom were obviously topless, and it made us ponder what men are thinking when they take their shirts off.
Is there a thought process, or is it just a thing they do? Surely blokes are not worrying about how their chests look, whether their tan is a little darker on the left shoulder (driving arm) than the right? They can’t be worrying about how to sit or stand to show off their best angle. And they couldn’t be self conscious about having their nipples on display for all the world to see. OR ARE THEY? Maybe, us girls have got the better end of the stick when it comes to beachwear. At least we have options.
We’ve got fake tan of course, should we decide to sunbathe ‘tops on’ (as seems to be the case these days). Yes, I know guys could use this too… but DO THEY? We’ve got one-piece swimsuits if we don’t want to show our stomachs, we’ve got all different styles of bikini tops and bottoms that can suck us in, push us up and show us of (and let’s not forget the option to fake it of we’re not happy with the body we’ve got). And of course, we have beach fashion – kaftans, capes, coveralls, wraps, sarongs, all kinds of crochet…
So we started to feel some sympathy for the men in our midst. You can’t help but wonder in the age of Instagram if guys (of all ages) are feeling the same insecurities and pressure that girls feel. Feeling satisfied we had put the world to rights, we went home… which is where SOMETHING HAPPENED that made us take back all of our sympathy for mankind (and when I say mankind, I mean men). As regular readers may remember, I live in Dalt Vila – Ibiza’s beautiful, ancient, UNESCO World Heritage Listed Site. It’s charming and romantic and magic and special… until you see a man walking around with his shirt off. And sadly, this season – it’s not just the odd one with no manners here and there. There are loads of them!
What is it that makes a man think it’s OK to strip off in a city? OK, it’s an old town – but it’s the island’s capital and a city nonetheless. Would you take your shirt off just strolling down the street in New York? No. London? I think not. Paris? Mon dieu! Women are not walking around town in bikini tops, so why are men going topless? It brought us back to one of our original points – it seems it’s JUST A THING THEY DO. A man gets hot, and thinks he has permission to bare his chest (I mean, it’s not against the law but common decency and all that) and wander around a beautiful, not to mention civilised place, all sweaty, for everyone to see. Restaurants and shops have to have signs on the wall that denote ‘no shirt, no entry’ – and you can see the local shop owners sigh in disgust when they have to enforce said rule.
The following day, Miss P and I island-hopped to Formentera (I know- horrible life, right?). Here, we saw an entirely different species of man… a very very welcome one! In Formentera, all men (seriously, ALL – maybe that’s why it’s called For-MEN-tera) wear stylish button-down linen shirts. Everywhere you look, it’s like being in a stylish European film. And you know what? It made every single one of them appear more attractive – the less is more effect. The less you show, the more intrigued we are. Perhaps the men who are holidaying in Ibiza could learn something from our Formentera brothers – first and foremost, when you’re not on the beach, PLEASE keep your shirt (and better yet, upgrade your tee or vest to an actual shirt)! on!
Photography by Sofia Gomez Fonzo and Alberto Alcocer