So you want to free your nipples…

Assateague National Seashore, Berlin, Maryland. Spring 2015
Assateague National Seashore, Berlin, Maryland.
Spring 2015

I think it’s awesome that the Free the Nipple campaign has brought attention to gender equality and body image, but I do worry that images of demonstrators will create the association that every woman who appears bare-chested in public is an angry protester.  Not me!  I don’t go bare-chested because I feel angry.  I go bare-chested because I wish to feel light and happy and free.

I don’t begrudge the protesters at all.  Without them the message would be forgotten. Protesters have changed the laws to protect gender equality.  But in order for female bare-chestedness to be accepted socially as opposed to legally, which is a far more subtle and difficult challenge, bare breasts must stop being the focus of attention.  Waving signs that basically say, “Don’t look at my breasts!” can confuse observers.

I have instead chosen to simply appear bare-chested in public behaving normally, doing normal things.  No signs.  No chants.  No slogans.  No arguments, ideally.  I just want to go for a walk on a nice day feeling free.  I suspect a lot of women feel the same.

So with that said, here is the first piece of advice I can offer.

Act normal.

I say this as if it’s easy.  It isn’t.  Not at first.  So maybe this is actually the first piece of advice… understand why you are doing this.  The more you understand your own body image, confidence, anger, anxieties, the paradoxically more normal you will appear to your observers.  Because let’s be clear, people are going to look at you.  You are doing something new and different and unusual and in some places, radical.

Your observers are going to associate your demeanor with your actions and form an instant opinion.  You will see the entire range of human emotion reacting to your breasts.  People will be moved to tears by your courage.  Others will ignore you completely.  Others will show contempt, fear and anger.

I have chosen to respond to all of them the same way, simply by showing them what I look like when I’m happy.  We don’t very often see happy people anymore.  I know people will look at my breasts first.  That’s a given.  But when they do look up at my face, I want them to see me at peace.


20 thoughts on “So you want to free your nipples…

  1. Thank you, sister, for describing my experience so beautifully! I approach nudism as a spiritual practice – to be free of shame about my (fat, old, scarred, saggy) body.When I’ve modeled ease being nude in public, others have told me it supported them to feel easier about their own bodies and curious to experiment with shedding their clothes. And I concur: sometimes being among non-nudists and experiencing their shock or censure about my nudity can be a real test for me. But I smile, and continue to connect to the delicious freedom I experience when I choose not to be ashamed!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It truly is all in the modeling! When people get scared or just aren’t sure of something, the first thing they do is look around to see what other people are doing. We calm others by being calm. Good for you! It is a pleasure to meet another women who loves and accepts herself. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. More posts to come!


    1. Hello. Yes, Moira was a pioneer in this work. I freely credit her with making it easier for me to do what I do in New York and Philadelphia both. I have never met her. I have sent her a message of gratitude and have celebrated her work in my blog. There are a lot of women who have done this work since the 1980’s. I have a list of women with whom I would love to talk and walk. If it is meant to be, we will find each other. Fingers crossed. Thanks for reading and commenting.


    1. Thank you. I look forward to the day when it won’t require courage for a woman to walk bare-chested at all. We are getting there. It’s getting better. I don’t feel like it’s this big act of courage when I go out most days now. At first it did. Now it feels quite normal. It’s nice. Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like to go bare chested in the summer and have been doing it in my house for a few years now and have been itching to be comfortable enough to be bare chested in public when I want to. I’ve wanted to but I feel nervous or unprepared for it. I should probably just go for it when I’m with people who I know support it. But I keep over thinking that people will see it as a big deal and I don’t want them to, but I can’t think of how to handle it if they do. I like being outside in the sun without a shirt on, but I don’t think I’ll like some of the interactions that I assume are bound to happen at some point. How has your experience with going about normal activities bare chested been? You seem very sure of and grounded with this and to not mind discussing it on the spot with members of the public. Do you have any advice for a shy person who just wants to go about their business while bare chested?


      1. I’m in Guelph, Canada, where I know a woman named Gwen Jacobs took her ticket for public indecency to court and won. Ontario itself recognizes topfreedom in most all normal contexts. Guelph is a very friendly, diverse, and understanding place and it’s a university city with a lot of students.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s awesome! Guelph is a landmark in the topfreedom movement, and Gwen Jacob is a pioneer of the highest order. So in answer to my first concern, the legality, to my understanding you live in a place that recognizes male and female bare-chestedness to be equal legal acts. Now, with that said, you may still wish to contact either the University Police or the Guelph Police or whoever will be overseeing the jurisdiction of your outings. But that would just be for your comfort and to avoid a street conversation with police. As to the rest of the recipe, I have written several articles on your exact scenario. I would start here:

          So You Want to Free Your Nipples…

          What to Expect When Walking Bare-Chested pt 1

          What to Expect When Walking Bare-Chested pt 2

          There are certainly others, but those are kind of the main things I’ve learned. Will you email me please at I would like to correspond with you. Thank you for reaching out to me.


  3. Ich komme aus good old Germany, und bewundere dich für deinen Mut ,außerdem hast du recht darin ,daß jede Frau darüber selbst entscheiden kann ,ob sie mit freiem Oberkörper rumläuft,oder nicht, ich als Mann kann das ja auch,wenn ich nicht gerade in die Kirche gehe. Vile Grüße Klaus


    1. According to Google Translate, you just wrote: I come from good old Germany , and admire you for your courage , besides, you ‘re right that every woman can decide for themselves whether they rumläuft shirtless , or not, I as a man can indeed , when I’m not go to church . Greetings Klaus

      Thank you! I very much appreciate hearing from Germany, and I love thinking that this conversation is happening internationally. Also, I can’t wait to rumläuft shirtless… I think! haha. Thank you again. Be well.

      Vielen Dank! Ich schätze hören aus Deutschland, und ich liebe es zu denken, dass dieses Gespräch international geschieht. Auch ich kann nicht ohne Hemd rumläuft warten … Ich denke ! Haha. Danke nochmal. Gut sein.


    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment and send support. It means a lot to me. This week has been a roller coaster! Good stuff, important stuff going on, but intense! I’m enjoying my naps for sure 🙂


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