Why I don’t ask other women to join me (but would love them to).

Ocean City, Maryland, Spring 2014
Ocean City, Maryland, Spring 2014

One of my early blog articles touched on the importance of knowing why it is meaningful to you to be bare-chested before doing so.

This is vital because it increases the probability that you will actually enjoy the experience no matter what types of reactions you receive.  The majority of people who see me bare-chested in public have either neutral or positive reactions, but there are some who react negatively.

This does not hurt my feelings.  I know something I suspect these folks don’t know, namely the strength of self-love and peace.

I go bare-chested because I enjoy the sensation of freedom.  My secondary though still very important motivation is to normalize the sight of female breasts so other women can have the same opportunity, and to feel the increased confidence, body pride and liberation that comes from overcoming body shame.

So if I believe in this so much, why don’t I go around asking other women to join me?

Because I don’t want them to go bare-chested for any other reasons than their own.  I channel my passion into going out and creating the space for other women to appear bare-chested if they wish to.  I walk.  I speak to police.  I let people get over their shock by looking at me and having whatever reactions they are going to have.  And I share my thoughts and experiences here, for other women to read.

But the decision to actually go bare-chested has to be up to them.  I’ve never said a woman should go out walking bare-chested.  I simply and strongly affirm that she should be allowed to.  That first walk can be transformative.  It is powerful stuff.  As such it should arrive when and only when a woman is ready for it.

But when she is ready, she should be allowed to, legally and socially.

With that said, the idea of another woman joining me of her own volition has always been the holy grail.  It’s been close at least a half-dozen times.  I could watch the calculations tumbling around…thinking it would be awesome, but what would my mother, husband, kids think, but I want to do it, but people will freak out, I should, but I can’t, not today.  I’ll do it someday.

I’ve never once even prodded, because I truly believe she will join me… someday, when the time is right for her.

So when Raven e-mailed me to tell me she was ready, I was elated.  Finally, after all these years!  And the experience surpassed my hopes.  It was a brilliant and life-affirming day.  You can read her words here.

The other super-duper holy grail is to be out on a bare-chested walk and encounter another bare-chested woman who has nothing to do with me.  That would, no, that will be a beautiful moment.

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18 thoughts on “Why I don’t ask other women to join me (but would love them to).

  1. Dear Gingerbread,
    First of all, I think your blog is well written and even more importantly, it is a well reasoned blog to read. Keep up the good work.
    My question is what do you do now that the winter season is approaching. What sorts activities do go have when the weather is cold?
    Best,
    Peter Le Grand

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    1. Hi Peter: Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. Being a redhead, I’m pretty warm blooded haha. So my outdoor season is pretty extended. But my plan for the winter is to have conversations with some of my top priority police departments. Some of this will require travel. And hopefully we will find some time to make a trip to a warm locale, but we prefer a pretty stress-free cadence to our lives and I would like that to continue this winter. The blog will continue, of course. I have a lot of thoughts piling up to write about. My growing focus feels like it will be to somehow bridge the trust barrier and find a group of diverse women, race, age, shape, background, ability, sexual identity, who can support each other in this movement. After we have established all these safe spots for women to appear bare-chested, the real work begins… achieving social equality and acceptance of female bare-chestedness. There are so many underlying fears, prejudices, habits that have to be unraveled before true equality can happen. But if we each put in a part of the effort eventually we will get there. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve experienced the type of feelings you describe in “some” naturist clubs, at one free beach, and at the place where I learned to do massage therapy. Regarding the latter, it was clothing optional and we usually opted for free bodies. When we were busy learning, there was deep appreciation for each other’s body. When we accidentally bumped into each other, we learned to say, “thank you.’ That ‘thank you’ was always accompanied by a warm smile.
    Thank you for your blog. We’ll ALL get there some day. Keep on keepin’ on! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Joe: Thank you for reading my blog and commenting. It really does feel incredible to accept your body and celebrate its capabilities, strengths, beauties and to be able to see that in others. Intimacy is important to humans, to our social subconsciousness. But we have made sex such a commodity that we have been conditioned, my opinion, to feel uncomfortable feeling positive feelings about each other. It feels invasive and vulnerable to have someone close to us that way. Clothes feel like barriers to rejection, even though they aren’t. We literally wear our security blankets. But I think deep down, in the midbrain, we know that the security blanket is not really keeping us safe from shame, isolation or rejection. So when we arrive at a place in our minds and hearts where we love ourselves, we don’t NEED others to love us, and we stop fearing that herd rejection so much. This is the power of body pride and self-love. We stop seeking love in unhealthy places, in malfunctioning relationships, etc. We love ourselves, we accept ourselves. It makes us peaceful, and powerful. That in and of itself scares people sometimes. But we can navigate it. Thanks again for the comment. Be well.

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      1. Hi! Thank you for responding!
        It dawned on me to ask if you know about the Co-Ed Topless group in NYC? They get together when it is convenient and enjoy the pleasures of NYC while bare-chested. They draw quite a large diversity of women (and one or two male friends). They say they are there to read pulp fiction, but the main thing seems to be bare and to commune with like-minded souls, minds and bodies.
        Let me know if you have met them.
        Happy winterized bare-chestedness and bare-in-mind. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Amazing and exactly the same way that I feel. S of my friends know about my clothes free life, but I never tell them that they SHOULD do it; I just tell them that I do it and that I love it for me. It so happens that a couple of them not long after I started sharing about my own experience, were like “let’s have a clothes free dinner!!!” And it was totally of their own volition. I was like “sure yes that be great !” and it went so well it was so normal so comfortable—- and they did it on their own.

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  4. I can relate to your article. It is one thing for a woman to go topless or nude on a beach, but it is another type of woman that will go against the “norm” and do it in public even though it is legal. It doesn’t seem to be a problem for most women to go topless on a beach if there are others doing it. It is sort of a group-think thing. The same is true for going clothes-free, but you will see very few single women going to the beach by themselves and going topless or nude. The ones that I have me that do this are more like you. They are strong-willed women comfortable with their convictions and bodies. They are at peace with themselves and are thick-skinned enough to shrug off the negativity as ignorance. These women are out there but they are few and far between. I think that Hontouniheart is probably one of those women from what I have read from her.

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    1. Amen to the comment about Hontouniheart’s strength and conviction. And yes, I agree. There are women willing to break down norms all over the world, in far more challenging circumstances than I face, (shout out for women in combat roles!) and that is why I continue to celebrate the women who have been advancing topfreedom for decades. I would like to think that through all of their struggles, arrests, court cases and harassment that they persevered in the hope that someday women like me would take advantage of their efforts and liberate their bodies and just make bare-chestedness a part of normal, everyday life, for all the valid reasons. I am very aware of the path made for me by other women and I understand that they have created the space for me to do what I do, and I hope the women who come after me feel that same beautiful legacy that preceded them. In a way. In a way it’s also a beautiful thought to picture future generations who don’t even know it was ever a struggle, like bare-chested men do now. But it helps me feel strong to think I am part of lineage. I mean, I’m certainly happy in solitude, and I’m obviously willing to be bare-chested alone and in anomalous social situations, but no part of me thinks I’m ever alone when I’m out there. I have all these incredible women and men there with me. Thank you for the continued support. You still haven’t told me where you live!

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  5. I would love to go on a walk with you some time. Where do you live or travel to regularly? IF I am ever in your neck of the woods, I’d love to do a behind the scenes interview and go on a topless walk.

    I first became consciously aware of this movement in 1999 when I rented a basement apartment from Gwen Jacobs in Newmarket, ON. I am sure the conversations I had with Gwen back in the day influenced me on a core level.

    I started my blog (Tantrachick) to explore my own sexuality and sexual transformation, but it has turned into so much more over the years. Recently, the on-going conversation has been focused on body image and nudity, so totally in line with the focus of your blog.

    I appreciate your effort to normalize bare-chestedness for all genders.

    From my heart to yours,

    Joy a.k.a. Tantrachick

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    1. Hi Joy: Thank you for visiting my blog. I’ve just been reading yours. Fascinating stuff. I have a friend who does your work in the Boulder area. I live in Maryland near Washington D.C. You? I am planning a trip this summer sometime that hopefully will include Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Toronto, maybe Ohio? And probably another New England trip for sure. I just got back from Concord and Laconia New Hampshire, where I watched Heidi Lilley’s district court trial for violating a local anti-topless sunbathing ordinance in Guilford, NH this summer. I will be writing an article about it soon. She, her co-defendant and her attorney did a great job. The judge won’t rule for awhile but they made some great arguments. I would love to meet and talk to Gwen Jacob sometime. She put years into her case and just went so deep into her reserves to fight for gender equality. She deserves a lot more appreciation than she has received. She has received a lot of media coverage, but I think she deserves more respect and true recognition of her contributions. I think about her a lot when I walk. Ramona Santorelli too, for the same reasons. We owe the pioneers our continued dedication and effort, otherwise their work was in vain. Thank you for reaching out to me. If you don’t want to share your geographical details here, feel free to e-mail me at breastsarehealthy@gmail.com.

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      1. Thanks. I grew up in Ontario, Canada, but am a bit of a gypsy, so I spent almost a decade in BC, lived in Washington and Arizona and I now reside in Iowa.

        Ohio is not far and I am also planning a trip home this summer (near Toronto). Maybe we can line up our travel dates and plan to meet up. I could conduct an interview over the Internet, but I think it would be much more compelling to interview you during a bare-chested walk!

        Gwen is not just an incredibly dedicated activist, she is an amazing mother and an all around wonderful person. I hope you get to meet her as well!

        We definitely owe our pioneers continued dedication and effort I couldn’t agree more! I will also email you so we are able to further discuss possibilities for a mutually beneficial connection. joy@tantrachick.com

        From my heart to yours,

        Joy

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        1. A quick search shows Iowa indecent exposure statute seems to allow breast exposure, forbidding only genital and “pubes” exposure lol. I think they mean pubis, but who am I to tell them what they mean? Pubes is plural for pubis. I think pubes sounds delightfully informal. Don’t show your pubes, dude. Des Moines has a very clearly worded statute forbidding female nipple exposure, “except as required for breast feeding.” Interesting little way of adding shame and judgment. Except as required. But yes, I was planning on planning my trip to coincide with as many other interested parties as possible. I have some people in Pittsburgh, one possibly in Buffalo, and some potential folks in Toronto, and of course Rochester NY is where it all began for us in the U.S. And Guelph for the Canadians. So that would be a pretty incredible road trip. Please do keep in touch.

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