Thursday 27 October 2016

Here's some free sun advice lads - no nipples please, we're Irish

Summer in the city. The smell of melting tar, the drip of drooping ice-cream cones, the squeaking tyres, the slap-slap of flip-flops, the riotous colour of summer dresses.

And the clammy damp hairy flesh of men with no T-shirts on. Everywhere.

There's a running joke about how Irish people tear off our clothes the minute the sun appears, baring all, whipping out the baby oil and tearing through Penneys like a plague of locusts in a field of corn. But we don't rip off what we're wearing.

Most Irish women over the age of about 17 will remove a layer of clothes. Given that we are wearing scarves, jackets and boots until about mid-June, this means those items are removed. We might venture as far as replacing the boots with flip flops, trousers with skirts, and trying a short-sleeved top.

Most of us will retain our dignity, save for the odd see-through fabric mishap. Those young enough, and confident enough, will go for a crop top, or hotpants, or both. Yes, a certain amount of flesh will be on display, but in general, nothing more shocking than a belly button.


Men, though, are a different story. No sooner does Mr Sun take his hat off than Mr Man takes his top off. And so we find ourselves averting our eyes, awkwardly, from hairy backs, sweaty flesh and nipples, garnished with a healthy scattering of freckles and overlaid with an angry scarlet veil.

The female nipple debate rages every time a celebrity breastfeeds in public, but it's time to turn the spotlight onto the nipple-happy men who joyfully wander around city centres turning people off their al fresco lunches. Breastfeeding has a purpose. Very few women are merrily waving their nipples around for public consumption.

The same cannot be said for topless men. Mowing the lawn, sunbathing in the park, barbecuing on the beach? Fine. But walking down a busy street? Buying the newspaper? Going to the pub? No. Just no. And no, it's not allowed in hot countries, either.

There's a reason restaurants and shops in sunny resorts have warning signs up about wearing a T-shirt to dinner; the rash of hairy English and Irish beer bellies that would otherwise proliferate.

Lads, it's time to give up the topless thing. And yes, this even applies to Poldark. There's a time and a place for everything, and if nipples aren't feeding nippers, they should be undercover.

- Deirdre O'Shaughnessy

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