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Topless | © Stokpic / Pixabay
Topless | © Stokpic / Pixabay
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Why Women Go Topless on Playa Del Carmen’s Beaches

Picture of Mónica Ramírez López
Updated: 16 July 2017
Despite Mexico being a country with heavy religious influence, on Playa del Carmen’s beaches, it is not uncommon to see women going topless. How is it that such a conservative city with high moral values became a popular area for this most taboo of beach activities? This is why women go topless here.

Because they want to… and can

Boobs are a global controversy. While in some African tribes it’s normal to keep them uncovered, and in Spain going topless is allowed, in Brazil it’s punished with a fine and even with the possibility of a year in prison. Other countries where it’s forbidden are Colombia and Argentina. But in Mexico it’s not; or rather, or not exactly.

Topless in Playa del Carmen
Topless in Playa del Carmen | © Sean and Lauren / Flickr

Before the tourism industry and big brands discovered the touristic potential of Playa del Carmen, it was a little town that charmed tourists and backpackers from around the world, due to its magical virgin-town style. Most of the first tourists coming to Playa were Europeans, who liked it so much that they came back to live, get married, work, buy a vacation property or even a business. Later on, when there were opened labor opportunities in the touristic industry, there came immigrants from different places from Mexico and around the world. The result: Playa slowly became a multicultural place where foreigners brought their own traditions, and going topless was one of them.

Why didn’t authorities forbid it? As they didn’t do it in the beginning, it became a tradition that would be strange to suddenly stop. Yes, Mexican federal law forbids immoral behavior and nudity, but is it really an “immoral behavior”? Tourism is the main economic activity here, and going topless is not harming anyone.

Some tourists come from countries that forbid going topless, so Playa is their opportunity to do so. Others are used to doing it in their own countries, like Italians, Spanish and French, so they just do what is normal for them—if that’s what they like to do.

Freedom and equality

In some countries, sex is no longer taboo, but public breast feeding is. Are boobs the problem? Or is how we think of them the real problem? Taking off the top has different meanings depending on the intention and place. Actress Emma Watson, feminist and UN Women Goodwill ambassador, received bad press for posing showing parts of her breast, to which she responded, “What do my boobs have to do with feminism?”

Why do women want to go topless? This certainly is an eternal question, one of those that can be responded so simply that would be complex to understand for some. Nothing compares to the sensation of the sunshine and the sea breeze all over your skin; it makes women feel free and liberated.

Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen | © Sean and Lauren / Flickr

Taking off the bra or bikini top can also be a statement: it’s a woman’s choice to wear pants, bikini, monokini, or even take their top off. They want to feel free and have an equal right to show the top part of their body, like men do. And of course, they want to get a perfect tan without lines.

There’s something else: anonymity. When nobody knows you, it’s exciting to dare to do things you would never do at home, where you run the risk of be judged.

Where and how?

In Playa del Carmen it’s largely tourists who go topless; locals don’t like it and some might consider it immoral, so you will not see many Mexican women doing it, but you will never get a bad comment or experience any hostility if you do. Yes, Mexican men might stare. However, if you don’t want to feel out of place, you should do it on a touristic beach: hit Mamitas beach or any in Playacar (the hotel zone), mainly on the beaches of the adults-only hotels. Feel free to soak up the sun whichever way you prefer: put on plenty sun cream and enjoy the experience.