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Fresh blow for topless Swedish bathers

David Landes · 21 May 2008, 16:24

Published: 21 May 2008 16:24 GMT+02:00

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Prior to the decision, committee member Stefan Brandberg cited concerns about the health of young girls in his opposition to the proposed lifting of the ban.

“We believe that it can contribute to anorexia—there is a risk for that,” he said to the newspaper Expressen.

Monica Hällgren, chair of the Enköping recreation committee, confirmed that one of the central arguments for leaving the ban in place was concern over the potential for topless women bathing to create conditions which could lead to a spike in eating disorders.

“We feel that topless bathing contributes to a preoccupation with people’s bodies and that isn’t something to which we felt the municipality wanted to contribute,” she told The Local.

According to Hällgren, the council had taken up the question after receiving an email from a man who complained that banning topless bathing by women while allowing men to swim bare-chested amounted to discrimination.

The issue of women going topless in public pools has received a great deal of attention in Sweden in recent months after two bare-breasted young women were kicked out of swimming pool in Uppsala last autumn.

Outraged by what they considered discrimination, a group of women in southern Sweden established the Bara Bröst network to demonstrate their solidarity with the women.

The network, whose name translates both as 'Bare Breasts' and 'Just Breasts', was mentioned in the discrimination complaint sent to public officials in Enköping.

However, there was little actual debate when the committee decided that the ban should remain in place.

“It was a unanimous decision,” said Hällgren.

Story continues below…

She emphasized that the ban only applies to the town’s one indoor pool and that, as of now there is nothing stopping women from going topless at any municipal outdoor pools.

“I understand why people want to go topless outside when they have the sun to consider,” she added.

“But we couldn’t think of any reason why someone would need to be topless at the indoor pool…it’s a place for families, after all.”

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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