We have talked about guilt. Specifically Catholic Guilt. But not about shame. While the current political regime in Turkey is religious, many parts of the country are very European. I.E. Topless Beaches and thong bikinis
I have never been particularly shy. In college I was used to using the co-ed bathrooms. Walking around the halls after my shower in a towel, I passed boyfriends and fathers in the hall. There was even an incident of topless tanning in my dorm courtyard which my friend and I were interrupted by a tour group of prospective students and parents. The tour guide did manage to recover, ‘As you can see, students like to take advantage of the beautiful courtyard…’ In college I stopped wearing a bra. I was fairly notorious among my friends. Especially when we went clothes shopping. We would be in the dressing room and they would get an eyeful. Actually, one of my friends suggested I should at start wearing a bra when I moved to Turkey.
This is why it surprised me that Bülent´s mother thinks that I am so edepli. Edepli translates into modest or decent or seemly. I never considered myself particularly modest, especially next to my friends. However, I see what they mean. I look at women walking down the main street or in the grocery store in only their bikini, and think, ‘Why don´t they at least put a skirt on?´ Here women of ALL sizes wear bikinis. I am a size 8, and I can barely bring myself to wear a bikini in public. I would prefer to wear a tube top around my middle and have my bum and breasts bare than have my midsection on display. And that is where the Puritan heritage pops out and starts to chafe my ass. I have a decent figure but because my stomach is not chiseled or emaciated I feel shy about exposing it. For all that I think of myself as a liberal, the Puritanical heritage has taken root in shame and conservatism. I am trying to escape its grasp. I sunbathe topless in the yard now–which passersby tend to glance into, and gasp, our neighbors could see!! But small steps at a time. I will try at the beach next but to tell you the truth, as shy as I am about baring my breasts in public, I am more afraid of getting a sunburn on my nipples!
Bülent´s mother thinks I am very edepli, and thinks it is adorable. The reason she thinks this is while at the bazar we tried on some clothes. She went behind the stand out of site and took of her shirt and tried on another. I tried on a dress over my tank top. She thought I was so modest, and I guess I was, but I dıd not take my tank top off in front of the seller because…I was not wearing a bra.