Free to be Free: Hontouni Heart’s First Topfree Walk in the City

Rock Creek Intersection
“As the fresh air washed over me, I felt relief and that connection with the environment that I had missed dearly. It made a difference feeling like I had a right to be right there, bare-chested, in the presence of everyone else.” ~Hontouni Heart, Rock Creek Park, Washington D.C. December 2015

 

A couple weeks ago a woman named Hontouni Heart from the Washington D.C. area contacted me and asked if I would join her for a bare-chested walk in Rock Creek Park, Washington D.C.  She told me she was an experienced naturist and nude yoga practitioner, but had never made a bare-chested walk in public. 

We made arrangements and she told me where to pick her up.  It can be hard to find parking in D.C. so we arrived early and took the first space we could find, which happened to be in front of a yoga studio, which happened to be full of students, who happened to be lounging all over the sidewalk during a break. 

Having time to kill I took a bare-chested walk right from there.  It was a beautiful day, unseasonably warm and as far as negative interactions go, completely uneventful.  So I was feeling good when it came time to meet up with Hontouni Heart.  The yogis were still present in large numbers.  I walked through them a second time and settled near our vehicle.  They looked, some snuck pictures, but otherwise no one interacted with me. 

I sent Hontouni Heart a text message telling her I was standing bare-chested near our vehicle, at the corner of such and such, in front of a yoga studio.  Given my attire and the fact that we were probably in her neighborhood, I asked if she would like us to come to her, or if she would like to come to us.

Here’s the rest in her words…

“I knew exactly where they were parked: right in front of the studio where I practice and assist class. I also knew that 1) there were about 60 yoga people there, 2) that they were on lunch break for their weekend yoga teacher training session, and that 3) this would likely mean folks would be sprawled out on the sidewalk in a rainbow stew of spandex and Lycra.  All this is also in the same neighborhood as the place where I work.

I texted Gingerbread back, ‘I can come to you.’  In fact, I had already left my office and was just around the corner from meeting my new friends for my first ever topfree walk in the midst of clothed society.

I had come across Gingerbread’s blog only a week prior to this meetup.  As I read through her posts, I noticed many references to my city.  ‘Wait a minute. Who is this redhead all up in my town?!’  I had to connect with and join her on a topfree walk.  Essentially, the spirit of the email was:

– Me: ‘Yo, I wanna join you on a walk!’
– Gingerbread: ‘Awesome sauce!!!’

(I don’t know if Gingerbread actually uses phrases like ‘awesome sauce,’ but it’s my story, and in my story she says stuff like ‘awesome sauce.’)”

(Editorial note: I do use that term.  It’s like we’ve been friends forever! ~Gingerbread.)

“I had never considered walking about the city topfree.  I usually sneak around to be clothes free outside.  I had read some accounts of The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society in New York, but usually I’d just think, ‘Oh that’s cool, good for them.’  Gingerbread had been researching topfreedom diligently for quite some time and learned that it was legal for women to be topfree in Washington, DC.  In fact, she had successfully taken walks in the city without arrest.  Once I started reading her accounts, it (finally) hit me that perhaps I, too, could enjoy that right here in my city.  So, I was very excited to join her.

And nervous.  ‘But WHY am I nervous?’ I wondered to myself.  This year I have been to a number of clothing optional places.  I thought, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been there, done that. It’s all good!’  Then it dawned on me: all of those places were far away behind gates, trees and covered windows.  This walk would be my first time expressing any aspect of my clothes free life in the midst of the rest of society, and I had no idea how people might react.

I rounded the corner, still in shirt and skirt, and, indeed, there bumbled a crowd of colorfully-clad yogis outside the studio with eyes on the bare-chested Gingerbread.  No  one said anything to me, so I gave my attention to Gingerbread and her fiance.  My arms flung open and we melted into a giant hug.  We jumped into the truck and took off to Rock Creek Park for our stroll.

 

CHarge

Rock Creek Park, Washington D.C. December 2015. Charge!

 

There were plenty of people out running and cycling, families playing and enjoying the day.  December decided to be a summery 70ºF that day, and I was certainly in no mood to protest. A light breeze stroked my cheeks, and the sun warmed my skin.  Initially, Gingerbread and I both wore our shirts in the park.  But as we made our way up a steep hill the sweat on my back became too much of a nuisance.  Without a peep I took a pause, removed my shirt and stuffed it in my bag. Gingerbread removed her shirt too and there we were topfree. 

As the fresh air washed over me, I felt relief and that connection with the environment that I had missed dearly.  It made a difference feeling like I had a right to be there, bare-chested, in the presence of everyone else.

Individuals, couples and families passed us, sometimes greeting with a cheerful hello, sometimes saying nothing at all.  One gentleman taking his afternoon run passed us by and gave a quick thumbs up.  We even encountered a group playing volleyball near a rest spot.  Everyone saw us, but they simply carried on with their game.  It surprised me that not a single person said anything lewd or rude to us.  We were simply walking and conversing topfree, and people treated us like they would anyone else.”

Gingerbread here again.  While we were walking on a wooded trail, Hontouni Heart said one of the things she felt nervous about was the reactions of children and their parents.  Shortly thereafter, two parents and a young girl passed us coming the opposite direction.  I would estimate her age at 7 or 8, my fiancé thought she was 9, and Hontouni thought she was around 10.  So somewhere in there.  She looked surprised to see us, in a pleasant way.  She also gave us a big smile when we looked down, smiled and greeted her directly.  We then looked back up at her parents, who nodded, smiled and continued on.  I was relieved.  Hontouni Heart’s first interaction with kids and parents had gone well.  And that was that, we thought. 

Fast forward an hour…

“As we made our way through the last field, we spotted a young girl, (the same little girl from before), perhaps 10 years old, topfree, bouncing a ball around with her dad while her mom watched from the side. I gave a small wave to the girl, and she waved back to us happily. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment.”

Nor will I.  That little girl looked so happy and free, way down deep in her soul.  My fiancé made eye contact with the girl’s father and they nodded to each other.  Both parents saw us and smiled.  That was it.  We went our way and they continued doing what they were doing.  I don’t know about Hontouni Heart, but I was close to crying.  It took a few minutes for all of us to process what had just happened, actually. 

“Now that I have this experience of being able to bare part of myself in the midst of society, and having that choice of expression protected by law, I am even more inspired to bring clothes freedom for all into that as well. There is a huge difference between having to drive off to a segregated resort or hide on a secluded balcony somewhere, and being able to walk in the presence of others without fear of arrest or other punitive actions. It was this experience of being free to be free, and I want that option for all people.”

 

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25 thoughts on “Free to be Free: Hontouni Heart’s First Topfree Walk in the City

  1. Great video and experience. The thing we kept watching for was the the reactions or lack thereof of all you encountered during your walk. Everyone seemed very accepting !! It would seem progress is being made 🙂

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    1. Thanks for watching, and commenting, as always. I think progress is definitely being made. There are of course people who do not feel comfortable with seeing a bare-chested female still, but on my recent walks those reactions have basically toned down to confused facial expressions. I wouldn’t even call them dirty looks anymore. In Philadelphia I heard one woman say, “Seriously?” as I rode by, for example. But that was it. Her reaction was no stronger than that. It’s interesting too that prior to the M Street walk, I had to use a restroom so I wore a shirt to go inside a building, no bra, and I heard a man in his twenties say to his girlfriend or wife, “She isn’t wearing a bra.” I have some friends who are uncomfortable seeing a bare-chested man. So we won’t ever see total normality. But it would be nice to find the tipping point where female bare-chestedness doesn’t really rate in most people’s minds, any more than male bare-chestedness does.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well it would seem the tipping point is closer than previously thought, as you and a group in New York continue to press for your right. The fact that this isn’t widely accepted is mind boggling. However persistence and calmness will eventually payoff. Everything we have seen from you has been nicely done and no way is it provocative. 🙂

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  2. Great Job! I love how you found somebody to partake in your topless adventures with you.

    Keep up the great work. Btw how do u get around Google deleting your videos from Youtube? I shared a video of me doing normal house hold tasks (naked) and they deleted it. My video wasn’t sexual at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Matt, thanks for watching the video and commenting. Well, my first response as always is that I’m not naked, any more than a bare-chested man is. With that said, I have been waiting to see how my videos would be treated. There is so much actually nudity on YouTube though that I think those days may be behind us? Facebook still censors nipples and for that reason I don’t use Facebook. Somebody out there posted my article “I Can Feel Bare-Chestedness Normalizing” on Facebook and I have had more than 10,000 people come to the blog from Facebook in the last four days as a result. So I guess either whoever posted the link made the image Facebook friendly or I’m slipping under the radar for the moment. I certainly appreciate the views. Everyone has been civil on this forum so far. I haven’t looked at the comments on Facebook. I imagine there will be positive and negative stuff. I’m not afraid of the negative comments. I just don’t like the vitriol that I see in a lot of comment sections on either YouTube or Facebook. I’m very proud of the maturity and civility of the conversations we are having here and on my YouTube and Twitter pages. Even the people who disagree have been civil and it has allowed us all to remain positive and peaceful.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I shared your YouTube video on my Facebook on the 14th and apparently bare chested is so normal that I didn’t even get a comment. Keep up the good work. I hope you will encourage more young girls to follow your example. I think that’s the key to the long term success of this effort.

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        1. Hi Lowell: This is an awesome to hear actually, haha. It’s a funny mission isn’t it? I seek to be not noticed at all! Thank you, and thank you for sharing my video on Facebook. However it happened, Facebook has now referred more than 20,000 visitors to my blog this week alone. That’s remarkable.

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  3. Looked like a lovely walk, well done! I can’t help but think though if I as a man attempted the same naked walk I would have been arrested in less than a min! Sad times!

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    1. Hi Jim. Thank you for the comment. It is important to me that we continue to emphasize that female bare-chestedness is no more naked than male bare-chestedness. I would have been arrested for walking completely nude too, as I would be violating the statute which says neither males nor females can expose genitals or anus. So if you attempted the same walk, that is wearing clothes on your bottom half but bare-chested, you would not be arrested. Thank you for visiting and commenting. Be well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Gingerbread. I’m from Brazil and I’m here to tell you how amazed I am for your initiative.
    I was just talking to my boyfriend today about how, for a long time, I thought my breasts were ugly, because the only reference I had for breasts were the ones that appear in the films and series: perfect breasts. Here in Brazil you would probably have been sexually harassed by idiots on the street and this is a big problem that we need to face and try to fix. So, I just want to congratulate you for all the work. The world needs to accept the natural and free female breasts and that is how we start it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bruna, thank you so much for commenting. I have had a couple other people from Brazil contact me with similar things to say. I am unfamiliar with Brazil’s laws and also the social climate. Where does Brazil fall on the gender equality spectrum? Are there movements happening to bring awareness to any issues? What is it like to be a woman in Brazil?

      The media is awful in its portrayal of what they try to pass off as a woman- tall, skinny in the right places, long hairless legs, big breasts and butt… Women have been airbrushed and made up and photoshopped into something unrecognizable. No one really looks like that, and even if they did, one type of person does not represent everyone. There are many different shapes, sizes, and colors of the world and so with us. That’s what makes us all unique and interesting in my opinion. I understand, commiserate, am sorry for what you have gone through. You are a beautiful human, and deserve not just to be treated that way but also to feel that way about yourself.
      It has been fascinating for me to compare my experiences walking bare-chested and walking fully clothed. I have been harassed verbally and physically while fully clothed but I have never been touched inappropriately while being bare-chested. We have to separate women’s attire from her perceived consent, and when I am bare-chested I am obviously doing so of my own volition and it seems to take that unwanted element out. It’s an empowering act on many levels. Be well.

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  5. Reblogged this on Tantrachick and commented:
    This movement is fully in line with some of the topics we have been discussing, so my sister directly asked me to share. “Topfreedom is a cultural and political movement seeking to advance gender equality by the recognition of the right of women and girls to be topless in public on the same basis that men and boys are permitted to be barechested. In addition, topfreedom advocates seek recognition of the right of nursing mothers to openly breastfeed in public, and of women to sun bathe topless. In North America, the Topfree Equal Rights Association assists women who have been charged for being topless, while GoTopless organizes demonstrations to protest against the legal and public attitude to the inequality.”

    I would love to live in a world where women of all ages had the same basic rights as men, including being able to walk bare chested without harassment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you to you and your sister for visiting and commenting. It always encourages me to know there are other women out there who understand the importance of this form of expression and equality, as well as, most fundamentally, the blissful joy and freedom that comes from shedding shame and feeling confident and content. That, ultimately, is why I walk bare-chested. I just love how it feels. Be well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Our pleasure! I have been topless or naked in a variety of places, but mainly where nudity is socially acceptable (beaches, sweat lodges, hot springs, etc.).

        This summer my daughter and I participated in a body painting event by Painted Citizen at the 80/35 rock festival and concert. We were supposed to wear nipple pasties to keep the masses happy, but they were uncomfortable and in our shared perception unnecessary so we removed them.

        My daughter was painted first, which left me pacing around in nothing but my booty shorts. It was interesting. Because there was an organized activity, there was absolutely no negative feedback.

        In fact, quite the opposite. People posed with us and applauded our bravery. It just seemed sad to me that wearing no shirt was something worthy of bravery.

        I also love the feeling and freedom of being bare-chested.

        In Community,

        Joy

        Liked by 1 person

  6. To quote, “Awesome sauce!” I wish top free for women were allowed where we live, my wife would love to be able to garden in the front yard in comfort.

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