Despite being famous for their relaxed attitude to nudity, Swedes are now some of Europe’s biggest prudes. According to a survey commissioned by travel website Skyscanner, Swedes are more likely than other nations to say women should keep it under wraps on the beach.
While Brits, Germans, Italians and Spaniards were happy to see their women sunbathing topless, many Swedes believe that tan lines are the lesser of two evils. Of the 3,000 people surveyed, no less than 99 percent of Germans were in favour of the topless sunbathing, compared to 84 percent of Swedes. Swedish women themselves were even less up for letting in all hang out on the beach, with just 67 percent saying it is acceptable.
Even the traditionally prim Americans proved comparatively relaxed, with 96 percent of men and 87 percent of women giving stripping off in the sun the thumbs up. In addition, 98 percent of respondents were happy to see men bronzing their chests on the beach, although 82 percent agreed that T-shirts should be worn in shops.
“We Swedes think we’ve got a very liberal and relaxed attitude to nudity, but it turns out that many other countries are more positive to topless sunbathing than we are,” said Kristin Andersson, manager of Skyscanner Scandinavia, in a report by The Local. “Regardless of our own attitudes, the important thing is to respect those around us and to be aware of local customs and cultures, so that we don’t cause outrage or upset anyone,” she added.
In recent years, Sweden has seen activists campaigning for increased acceptance of women going topless, with one network, Bara Brost (meaning both ‘Just Breasts’ and ‘Bare Breasts’) pushing for relaxed rules at public swimming baths. The movement resulted in a number of topless demonstrations and attracted international media attention.