Spring break is fast approaching and many of you are probably heading off to warm places, whether it be back home to Florida or California, or a trip with your friends to Mexico or Puerto Rico or to some far off exotic place with your family.
Regardless of your specific situation, and even if you are not going to be somewhere warm over spring break, you should be aware of the differences in beach attire around the world.
Throughout most of the United States, beach dress is pretty uniform — girls wear bikinis, tankinis or one pieces and guys wear normal guy bathing suits.
The only major difference is that the beachgoers in the South and in the West are actually tan and the same cannot be said so much for the East Coasters.
In California however, you will find slight variations of the norms. California is of course the home of the surfer dude and likewise the surfer chick.
The surfer chick wears a bathing suit like everybody else, but she also wears waterproof shorts that look like guys’ bathing suits.
Sometimes she also wears a wetsuit top — that’s when you know that she means serious business. Unlike other girls, she actually spends most of her time at the beach in the water.
Europe and South and Central America are surprisingly similar in their beach culture, although it should be said that the Europeans are slightly more conservative.
It is very common in both of these places to see topless women on the beach. And these topless women aren’t just tanning, but walking around and playing with their kids as if it were completely normal (the word “normal” means different things to different people I suppose). Another oddity about this beach culture is the existence of thong bathing suits. These women (often the ones who you have very little desire to see more of, I’m sorry to say), walk around the beach with their butts hanging out for the whole world to see. And although I’ve never seen it myself, I’m sure there are women out there who go to the beach and walk around topless with a thong bikini bottom. They might as well not have bothered with the bottom at all.
This brings me to my next point. You can also find nudist beaches in Europe and South and Central America. Although I have never had the pleasure to see such a beach, I can imagine that they all look like the nude beach in the movie Eurotrip that is full of naked old men. To be honest, I’d rather not find out.
Beach culture in the Middle East is a completely different matter all together.
While tourists staying in resorts wear what they would normally, women at public beaches are advised to wear clothes when going into the water. This is a very common practice for women who live in the region as well. There are also special swimsuits made for Muslim women who wish to remain fully covered but still have the mobility to swim well.
They closely resemble wetsuits, with the addition of a skirt to hide the tightness around the private areas and a hood to cover the hair. If you hadn’t already guessed, nude and topless bathing are big no-nos in the Middle East.
Whatever your plans are for this spring break, it’s always good to keep other cultures and practices in mind.
So if you see someone wearing a thong bikini or a burka-like bathing suit, don’t stare. Be respectful — you’re all at the beach for the same reasons: to have fun and to relax!