Updated: Jan 6, 2020
When I was little, I copied my dad and took off my shirt on hot summer days. He would be doing yard work, and I would be running around doing something or other that was sweaty and active. It felt great. A cool breeze works much better when it hits your skin directly. He encouraged me to ditch the shirt, and my sister and brother followed suit.
One time, my mother pulled him aside and asked, “are you sure the girls should do that?” Perhaps we were at a public park, or perhaps the neighbors were out in the adjacent yard. I can’t remember. But I distinctly recall my dad’s impatient, dismissive response: “Oh, what’s the difference?” And no more was said. I looked at myself, my sister and my brother. Darn right, there was no difference. This was clearly one of those irrational, easily falsifiable things that people sometimes said about girls – that we were bad at math, or we didn’t like blocks. And it was equally annoying: another way to try to keep me from doing something fun just because I was a girl. I gleefully ignored it.
Just a few years later, I would have been mortified to be topless in public…