Are Men Obsessed With Tan Lines?

Last summer, Mark Sanford wrote the following words to his mistress, Maria Belén Chapur:

“I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curve of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night’s light—but hey, that would be going into sexual details…”

I remember reading that and thinking: A) “Wow, this guy is a serious cheesmo,” and B) “Wait, he loves her tan lines?” It struck me as strange.

But in the past week, I’ve been hearing an awful lot about men fixating on tan lines.First, a male friend semi-creeped me out when he pointed to the line of white across my shoulder and said it was “cute.” Ooookay, dude. A few days later, a female friend who’s a former stripper told me that the girls at her club were asked to wear the same bathing suit all summer so that they’d have extra-crisp tan lines. Why? So that when they took it all off, men would feel like they were seeing something truly forbidden.

Then yesterday, I flipped to a short piece in this month’s Marie Claire called “A Guy’s View of Summer” by one Scott Frampton. He writes:

“[The sundress] reveals not only your body, but also how comfortable you are with it, and from there, it’s a perilously short trip to envisioning what you’d do with it. Especially if tan lines are involved; I’ve been known to lose my grip at the early-evening sight of them, innocent mojitos plunging to their patio deaths. That contrasting stripe, climbing over your shoulder from parts unknown—unknown to me, certainly—is a tease in the best sense.”

So what’s up, fellas? Are you really this into tan lines? And if so, why are women always going to extravagant lengths—rotating swimsuits, unhooking straps while sunbathing—to avoid them?