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- This article deals with topless males. For females, see Topless.
Going bare chested refers to a man wearing no clothes above the waist, exposing the entire torso. It is also known as "stripped to the waist", or "being shirtless". The term topless is usually only applied to women.
It is much more common for men to be bare chested in public than women, as exposure of the male pectoral muscles is often considered to be far less taboo than of the female breasts, despite some considering them equally erogenous. Both are forms of partial nudity.
Throughout history, many men, especially labourers such as farmers and miners, have worked bare chested. This was, and is, particularly normal in warmer climates, with the exception of very hot climates where protection from sunlight becomes more important than ventilation. But various times and places have been more strict and uneasy about the practice. During the Victorian period, polite society in Western cultures deplored nudity of any degree, even bare-chestedness, and people took great pains to cover themselves up. In societies so affected, attitudes began to relax in the 20th century. Going bare chested in public was again acceptable. At first, the rules relaxed only for men on beaches and swimming pools — in New York City, a man could be fined for removing his shirt in Central Park as late as 1960 — but permissiveness gradually grew and crossed gender lines. Most recently, it has become quite common for women on beaches in Europe and the Caribbean to go bare breasted, though it is by no means universal. It is still unusual on most beaches in North America and Australia.
Throughout much of Asia, bare-chestedness in either men or women is generally disapproved of, and may be highly offensive, even at the beach. In many of these regions, for example South Korea, most adults still swim almost fully clothed. Some countries, such as Thailand, though they disapprove of toplessness among women, condone it in order to keep attracting European tourists. In some Muslim countries, women are religiously encouraged (or required, as in the case of Iran) to cover nearly all of the body. In Europe and North America, people remain who take offense at bare-chested men, and many shops will refuse to serve bare chested people, having policies of "no shirt, no shoes, no service".
In informal sporting matches, such as a game of football in the park or playing cricket on the beach, players will often be ill equipped regarding separate shirts or bibs for the two teams. In these situations, a common option, at least for male teams, is to play Shirts versus Skins: one team goes bare chest and are hence said to be 'Skins', whereas for reasons of identification the other team keep their tops on and are called 'Shirts'.
In some sports, the male standard-attire is bare-chested, especially in most aquatic disciplines such as swimming, diving, surfing or water polo, and in the beach version of other sports, such as beach volleyball.
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