This is the 2nd week back at work, following a family wedding in Seville and the obligatory visit to mother­-in­-law in Mallorca, which is located in the sunny Mediterranean and arguably one of Europe’s top ten topless sunbathing destinations. Being happily “off work”, I enjoyed one of my favorite past times, “people watching”, trying to discern some similarities and differences between the US and European women.

I was born in London and lived there, BK (B​efore Kids)​and was familiar with the cultural divide which separates the US from the UK. Some of the insular Brit preconceived notions have ceded, as our world has become ideologically smaller. For example, in the 1980’s the perception was that American women wore too much make­up and put too much emphasis on good looks. Fast forward to the early 21st century and there isn’t such an elitist perspective. Cosmetic surgery and the exchange of ideas across the Internet has established attractiveness, youth as commodities, which can be leveraged and are therefore desirable.

The weather was warm, the water azure and the beaches packed. Idly, I caught snippets of Italian, French, Russian and Spanish, the banter expected from visitors from cool Northern climes. Did all women disrobe? Not at all, however the array of bared breasts ranged from the small perky “mushroom” buds to the mature, free flowing “spaniel’s ears”. I did not detect any awkwardness in the public display of female nudity as their ages varied from late teens to mid 60’s. The scenery was not one of sniggering voyeurism or sideways aghast glances, but reminiscent of some simpler time, when the female breast wasn’t elevated to a metaphor for sexuality. Did I spot any obvious breast implants? Just one pair was obvious and it was by OC standards, quite modest. I must confess that I did a double­ take, to confirm the presence of a periareolar scar and noted that the woman appeared to be over 60, sun-baked and contentedly baring her breasts, without any provocative or bashful posture.

You may wonder whether I disrobed. I kept my top on, not out of shame but rather as an active decision. Perhaps it was the vision of the corpulent man with the extremely skimpy G­string, which dissuaded me, but I prefer to think I made an informed decision, just like my patients.

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