French painter Paul Gauguin was seeking paradise when he left France in 1891. Although he lived in French Polynesia for years and painted his most famous pictures there, he wasn’t thrilled with the impact of western civilization he witnessed on his arrival. He was looking for an Eden, where innocent natives walked about naked and unashamed. Alas, French missionaries had already discovered the place, and women were compelled to cover their nakedness with dresses. Since Polynesian women had no concept of shame, they didn’t understand why they were supposed to cover their breasts. Many of these women thwarted modesty laws by cutting holes in these dresses to expose their breasts, making it easier to nurse babies.
Mrs. Chatterbox and I traveled to French Polynesia in 2004. See more pictures (here.)