Ah, sweet summer, the time when suntan-seeking tourists flock to the shore; parking is a challenge, and humans have a tendency to bare their skin to seek the sun. Other than the concern of covering up as a precaution against skin cancer, seeing skin isn't usually a concern, especially on and around beaches.
Face it, in the thrilling days of yesteryear, ladies wore long dresses into the surf and gentlemen wore outfits that resembled onesies, all in a bid to remain modest. Fast forward to today when we recently received a message from one "concerned" beachgoer of too much skin being exposed.
Eyes will certainly roll when I discuss this topic, but it seems that a female attired in a thong raised the question of decency in the writer's mind. Having no photograph of the subject of concern, who knows? But it's a matter of taste, whatever that may be.
The person who contacted us noted that there is a decided difference between what is considered acceptable attire in European countries and what is acceptable on Cape May County beaches. It is likely that most of us have viewed other humans that we wish we hadn't seen, at least in bathing suits. What may be quite acceptable north of the U.S. border may furrow eyebrows, down south in Cape May County.
I, for one, would hate to be the person to enforce "dress (or undress) codes" on local beaches. What I find okay would probably cross someone else's line.
Take heart, the problem of seeing too much skin is not confined to the 27 miles of beaches of this county. The Philadelphia Inquirer carried a Washington Post story July 5 about the “problem” of men in China rolling up their shirts to expose naked bellies. According to the story, it's an ancient belief there that baring a man's belly to the sun helps rid the body of bad stuff. At least it’s cheap and you don’t need a prescription.
Who's to say? I consider that the Chinese have been around a few thousand years longer than we have. Maybe they know something we don't. Baring one's beer belly (ugh) isn't something that concerns too many visiting beachgoers, but peering at a female in a thong seems to invoke indignation. Where is truth here?
Take heart. This writer will hide his belly behind (at least) a T-shirt, not wanting to make an onlooker blush or poke an accusing finger at me for being indecent.
To the larger question, who is to say what defines “decent” attire on a public beach? Is a black Speedo on a heavyset male offensive or a skimpy thong on a female?
Remember a few years ago when it was deemed fashionable for young men to sport pants that slipped down about four inches below their waist to show the world their skivvies? To them, such scant coverage of one's nakedness was of no concern, but to older, conservative souls, such a display was downright indecent.
Proving this thong-wearing issue is not new, consider Bill Barlow's story from August 2018 in Ocean City.
"Skimpy bathing suits are part of summer at the shore, but is there a limit to what should be allowed?
"At the July 26 City Council meeting, Councilman Michael DeVlieger said he'd heard complaints from some constituents about thongs on the beach, asking the city ban them from the beach.
"Although he raised the issue, DeVlieger described it as 'Not necessarily my idea,' adding that he felt obligated to bring up issues raised by the public.
“'I’m not saying that we have to debate or discuss it today, but I’m going to put it out on the table,' he said, citing an email he received. 'The individual was offended by thongs on the beach and was asking that we create some sort of legislation to make it more modest. I wrestled with the thought of that. I mean, this is America. Not everybody’s going to agree with everybody else’s taste. But it was asked of me so I’m putting it out there.'”
That proves this "thong-thing" annually raises eyebrows and results in navel-gazing and renews some folks' pondering of the civilization's downward spiral. Keep in mind, not all cover-ups are bad things.