Let there be light!

Torreille Beach just north of Perpignan

Torreille Beach just north of Perpignan

Let it all hang out. That is the official motto I have chosen for this trip.

Why? A couple of reasons. In France, especially in the south of France, it is common to take at least a two-hour lunch break. Eating while walking is   regarded as a sin. People enjoy their food here. They savor the taste rather then inhale their meal. The work week is 35 hours and overtime is a foreign word for most. On Sunday, stores close and families head off to the beach.

But the scene on those beaches isn’t quite what we’re used to back at home.

Topless sunbathing is a staple of Southern France, and Perpignan fully embraces this tradition. Could I?

The idea of traveling with 17 strangers and engaging in this local custom was a tad intimidating. Even a trip with some of my close friends to Torreilles didn’t convince me to do the deed and enjoy the free world. Yet surrounding me were adorable old couples rubbing each other with sunscreen despite not having “beach bods.” This inspired me to break out of my self-conscious shell.

On a July 3 trip with most of my class, I decided to literally shed some light on my breasts and go topless on the beach. I wasn’t fully comfortable with all my classmates seeing my half-naked body, but at the same time, I thought it might inspire others to live life as the French do in the little time we have. It felt great. It wasn’t just the high from this newfound freedom; it felt fantastic to be liberated from restrictive straps and cups.

I suggest everyone try this at least once. But I have a feeling once you start, you will never want to turn back. I look forward to spending many more topless days at the beach. Who knows, maybe next time I will christen the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.