What do we consider controversial?

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Due to some recent circumstances that shall remain detail-less, I was prompted to write a little something about what is considered “controversial” in “mainstream America.”

(This little article tells it like I see it – the overly sensitive can pass on by…consider that your official warning…)

I’m usin’ all those quotation marks up there on purpose, people.  Because both of those terms are up for interpretation.  Things I find to be risque are certainly different from what others consider to be so.  (It takes a LOT for me to consider something to be too risque.)  Same thing goes for crossing cultures.  Other countries see these things in a very different light.  I’m wondering what is up with some folks here in the USA…   Personally, I’m chalking it up to those crazy Puritans who came over here all those years ago.

I, too, am apparently a bit “controversial” to some.  Really, there are some people who get all up in arms about this particular thing.  While some people are like, “what’s the big deal?”  I’m in the second category.  I don’t know what the big deal is.

What am I talking about?  This little pic right here…

okay, what's the big deal?
okay, what’s the big deal?  I think I look great!

Apparently some people think a pic like this is risque and controversial.


I mean, seriously?

No, I’m really asking… seriously?

This is considered controversial to some people?  The IMPLICATION in a photo that I am topless at a beach in Europe?  This particular pic was taken by my boyfriend when we were on vacation last summer in Croatia.  In Europe, pretty much all the beaches are topless.  (Nude beaches are marked with signs, but they are all over the place too.)  I was personally super excited about that.  I was eager to feel the freedom that men must get to feel when they are at the beach.  I was pretty much topless every single day.  In public.  At the beach.  Like lots of other people.  Other WOMEN!  Old and young alike.   (gasp……..the scandal……..yawn…….)  And I actually planned this pic before I even left American soil.  I wanted something really artistic and beautiful to be a representation of that freedom that I felt.  Freedom!!!  I talked it over with one of my really good friends who rocks at taking photos.  (Shout out to Megan!)  I threw the idea off of her to get her thoughts on the composition and layout of the pic.  I planned which beach the pic would be taken at.

And I got exactly the pic I was wanting.  I proudly posted it.  On Facebook and on my blog.  I saw it as a tastefully artistic photo – I mean, NOTHING is showing.  No boobs – not even side boob.  There’s no one in the pic with me, so it’s not like some awkward gawking passerby is staring at me, nor is my man grabbing at me – nothing like that.  It’s just a nice beach shot.  I thought it totally captured the artistic look I was going for.  I think it’s great!  It captures my free spirit in so many ways!

There were maybe a small handful of people who were kind of surprised about it last year when I posted it (still don’t know why), but when it came down to it, it was met with an overwhelming positive response.  My boyfriend, being European, couldn’t fathom anyone having any issues with ANY photo of this nature, and I was in total agreement with him.

My parents were fine with it.  My bosses were fine with it.  My friends were fine with it.  So what was the big deal?

I kind of let it go and forgot all about it.  I worked it into my blog banner.  Time went on its merry way.

(My general attitude is live and let live.  Be good and nice to each other, don’t hurt others, and well, that’s pretty much it.  Let people have their own lives that make them feel happy.  Don’t judge others.  Live your own life in a way that fulfills YOU.  Anyone who’s read my blog in the past, knows my general attitudes on life.)

However, it was only just a few days ago when I overheard people talking about me and this very pic (without knowing I was sitting in front of them) where I suddenly had a moment of what I imagine celebrities must feel – seeing or hearing untrue things about themselves spread all around and all over.  These folks I overheard talking were filling in all kinds of interesting untrue details around aspects of my life, probably based on rumors they had heard here or there.  This pic was part of their “shocking gossip.”  Never mind that I’m generally very open about many aspects of my personal life online.  (No intimate details, of course.)  If people want the real story of all things Jen, it’s as close as my Facebook page and blog.  Wanna know all the countries and places I’ve traveled?  It’s on Facebook.  (And my blog.)  Wanna know how long I’ve been with my boyfriend?  It’s on Facebook.  It’s also on my blog.  Wanna see what I ate on my trips and in which restaurants?  How many Cokes I drank at lunch?  Hell, it’s on Facebook AND my blog.  I think you get the picture.

So I started to wonder.

Why would the photo of someone’s back work some people up so much?  Would that one little piece of string across my back make all the difference if it was there?  Is this pic shocking to some because they’re super right wing conservative?  Maybe?  (Shrugging my shoulders.)  I’m super left wing liberal, so I really don’t understand the folks at the other end of the spectrum most of the time.  Or is it because other people are too chicken to express themselves in that kind of way, so it makes them feel better to trash talk me?  Are they jealous of me because I’m not afraid to do it?

But when is this kind of pic considered risque, and when is it not?  Only when it’s someone you know does it become risque?  When it’s a non-celebrity doing something you only expect from famous people?  A quick Google search brought up all kinds of examples of women’s bare backs in advertising.  Hell, open a freakin’ Victoria’s Secret catalogue or go to the website and you’ll see the same amount of skin that I showed.  (And more.)

How about this?

oh no! indecent maxi pads!
Oh no! indecent maxi pads! my eyes! my eyes!

So, is this maxi pad advertisement shocking?  I don’t think so, but then again, I didn’t think my own pic was anything out of the ordinary.  Does this ad fall into the risque category because you can tell this woman is naked?  I mean, heck, in my pic I at least had the bottom half of my bikini on and all…

What about this perfume ad?

Flowers and toplessness - must be a hippy!
Flowers and toplessness – must be a hippy!

So, thoughts on the perfume store ad?  Girl’s not wearin’ a top!  Are you all sufficiently shocked?  (More yawns from this end…)

Or this ad for massage something or another….

EEEK!  Massage without a top on!
EEEK! Massage without a top on!

So are the same people put into shock over seeing THIS topless woman’s back?

As the old commercials from my childhood used to say – “inquiring minds want to know.”  I really do want to know, ’cause it truly makes no sense to me whatsoever.  Really.  No sense.

Or hey, what about all the men on the beaches with WAY bigger boobs than someone like me.  There’s TONS of ’em.  Especially in America.  (You know it’s true, so don’t get all offended over the statement.  We just have more big people here in the States.)   I’m much more shocked at the site of big saggy man boobs than petite lady boobs any day.  Some of those man boobs are quite visible even in non-beach locations.  (I’m lookin’ at you, big guys who wear skimpy tank tops to the store in the summer…)  But you know what?  If that’s what they want to do, then more power to them.  If it makes them happy, who am I to judge?  It’s none of my business, nor does it effect my life.  The same attitude should prevail when the gender table is turned!

So, in conclusion,  it’s okay for big hairy men with giant man boobs to parade around topless on every beach from here to kingdom come, but heaven forbid you see a woman’s topless body.  Am I getting that right, my fellow Americans? Is that the message we are sending out?  We want to think we are SO above some of those other cultures that objectify and suppress their women, when in fact, we are just doing the same exact thing only in different ways.  I like to think that I am on my way to becoming a strong independent woman.  (Those who know me  – or read my blog – know my struggles in that regard.)  But if I’m topless on a beach, it does not mean I’m trying to make myself into some kind of objectified sex object.  It means I’m feeling the sun on my skin and the water on my body, just like the man next to me.  Plain and simple.

Photo of author
Jennifer was initially drawn to Europe for two reasons: music and love.  She lived in Vienna for four years, and now calls Croatia home for much of each year, as she married a native Croatian. Since 2015, Jennifer has worked as a tour director and cruise director on European river cruises for a major American travel company, and has become an expert in all of the cities along her routes on the Danube, Rhine, and Main Rivers. She also has traveled to Disney World almost every year since 1985, and knows Disney World inside and out. As a travel agent, Disney World is her primary specialty, and she has helped many Disney newbies and veterans have amazing trips with her insider information.

3 thoughts on “What do we consider controversial?”

  1. OMG Jen!!! You look beautiful!!! Embrace it!!!! Don’t even give a second thought to what others are saying!!! Tracey


  2. New blog reader, and reading past blog posts 🙂 I just had to comment on this one. I consider myself conservative in some regards, and I did not once think anything negative about that picture. Heck, if I could rock it – I’d do it too! Hahaha! 🙂

    Keep writing, I love reading your blog! ~ Katie


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