Building the Team: Working Holidays in DC and NYC

Battery Park, overlooking the Statue of Liberty, Manhattan, New York City, Aug 2017. I had the pleasure of joining a group of about a dozen women for a pretty long walk from Battery Park to a restaurant in the Financial District. All told we were bare-chested for about five hours. Thanks to the Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society for arranging this walk and the dinner to coincide with my visit. Reactions from passersby were pretty neutral, per normal. A couple cheers went up for us as we passed by some outdoor restaurants, some double takes, people sneaking photos. Nothing out of the ordinary, except for the sheer scope of the outing, which was pretty epic, all these bare-chested women walking comfortably through NYC for hours.

Despite having had three years of notice and my repeated offers of quiet and mature conversation, Ocean City, Maryland passed a hastily-crafted “emergency” ordinance banning female bare-chestedness last month.  The quality of the ordinance reflects the amount of time they spent with it.

We, in contrast, are calmly, carefully and professionally preparing our legal challenge.

Part of my “homework” has been to compile an A-Team.  So I have been travelling a lot and building a group of supporters from Maryland and beyond.

DC Group 1
Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C., July 2017.

And as I have been travelling I have been taking opportunities to see places I haven’t visited before, and to recharge the batteries before this next push.

Mainstream media has been getting better, more informed I guess, less sensational, but it still takes a lot of energy to navigate media requests, make sure they contain accurate information, give fair portrayals of positions and such.  So I took some time, took some naps, took some walks and bike rides, and now I feel ready personally, and I think the team is ready too.  It’s exciting.  No guarantees, but we are giving ourselves the best chance of success.  Besides Devon Jacob, our actual attorney, we also have seven other attorneys offering concrete assistance and research, women going bare-chested and raising their hands to participate in the challenge, male supporters grinding numbers and preparing research documents… it’s happening.

CO 1
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Washington, D.C. Aug 2017. It was hot! Holy cow.

Let me also give a shout out here to our friends in New Hampshire who are putting the final touches on their appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, challenging Laconia’s unconstitutional town ordinance banning female but not male bare-chestedness.  The ACLU of NH has contributed an amazing amicus brief that will help all of us in the future.

East River Bikeway, Manhattan, NYC, Aug 2017. Taking a break in the middle of a 3-hour bike ride around Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. It was 78 degrees, cloudy with low humidity. Heaven.

So let me finish by offering my heartfelt appreciation to all the people helping us challenge Ocean City’s unconstitutional ordinance.  I have lost count of how many people we have working on this right now.  Whether it is by doing research, putting thought to legal strategy, long term ramifications of various positions, hosting us on our journeys, going for walks or rides with me, high fives, offers of support, whatever, it means so much to me and to all of us.  Thank you.

It’s only taken a year, but I have finally posted another video, of my ride yesterday around Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.  The camera isn’t that great and the battery died kind of quickly, but you’ll get the point.  I had a blast.  The ride felt so free and wonderful.

Video: Bare-chested Bike Ride Through NYC, Aug 2017


48 thoughts on “Building the Team: Working Holidays in DC and NYC

  1. Just posted to your attached YouTube video (Nothing to see here folks…). Just to reiterate my post, my thanks are not enough to give you for doing what most, fear or are scared of attempting and that is challenging the normal! Continue to Challenge, Continue to Change (I’ll take 10% for that slogan!)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, again, haha. I will pass this information onto the marketing and rights department to make sure they process your royalties each time I use the phrase Continue to Challenge, Continue to Change (Continue to Challenge, Continue to Change , Continue to Challenge, Continue to Change, Continue to Challenge, Continue to Change …) (I’m trying to get you a paycheck!)

      Liked by 4 people

  2. I’m glad to see that you’re relentlessly fighting for what you believe. That attitude inspires and helps others to a motivated action. I hope that more individuals in small towns, cities, and States will demand the equality to exercise their rights. Complacency is a threat to Freedom.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi Jeremy. . Thank you for support, if that support is for gender equality. If your support for top freedom is because you view it as a stepping stone for something you want, presumably full male nudity, I ask you to read the article I wrote on this topic a few months ago.

      Males have had the right to go barechested for nearly a century. When women have had that same right for a century, and the imbalance is fully corrected, and society is ready to reexamine its feelings on nudity together, equally, fine. Until then, I ask that people who voice support for me and the cause of top freedom do so because they wish to see equality under the law, not because they view my work as a means of achieving an end for themselves. I welcome your thoughts, and if I have misunderstood your message, please clarify, but I have had a lot of self identifying male naturists voice some incarnation of yay top freedom… because top freedom means we are closer to being able to show nude males in public.

      Rightly or wrongly, the way that’s lands is, ok, women got something, now men get something more. It sounds like women can get something only if shortly thereafter men get something that keeps them slightly above or ahead. If that sounds harsh, reread your comment. Yay! But… Meaning yay, but not really yay, because this top freedom thing is leaving male naturists out of a loop somehow. Why only male naturists? Why not female naturists? Why are we drawing gender lines between naturists at all? Why not just refer to naturists as a general population?

      I am not a naturism advocate, I am an equality advocate. The naturist community, if there is one, has a very difficult conversation ahead of it regarding diversity, inclusion and equality. Let me be clear, I and the top freedom movement need all the support we can get. And I appreciate all who do so however they do so. But this is an issue of equality, and establishing equality and correcting an imbalance decades in the making. We have a very, very long way to go before the imbalance is corrected.

      I tell people, talk to me when soccer moms and daughters go barechested at the birthday pool party as easily as soccer dads and sons do, and when that pool party is attended by a racially diverse group of people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. This current conversation with Ocean City is about establishing equality under the law. Because societal equality will take decades to achieve after the law finally treats everyone equally. It can never happen if the law remains unequal.

      So I thank you for your time and comment, but ask you to spare a thought for all those who do not enjoy the full protection of the law.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Hi Chelsea,
        Glad to see you’re out and about and making progress. I’m a male naturist. I read your previous article about naturists and specifically male naturists. I hadn’t given all those issues much thought. But I think you’re right. Naturists have a lot of work to do internal to that community that is beyond to scope of your work. What you are doing is complete, narrowly focused, logically articulated and carefully crafted to identify and correct a specific gender based inequality. Further, by implication you seek to correct broader gender inequality. It is distinct and separate from nudist issues. Your writings lay this out in well reasoned argument. I learned something. In two weeks, I’ll be down in Ocean City on the beach. You’ll be able to pick me out easily….I’ll be the middle aged white guy unfortunatly having to wear a bathing trunks…..but I will be bare chested. 🙂 🙂


    2. Jeremy- Could you please expound upon your post? I sincerely hope that you do not have the illogical notion that acknowledging and legitimizing the baring of female breasts in public somehow leads to the expectation that males will then be allowed to go fully nude?
      Please go back to some of Chelsea’s earlier posts (they are all very well-written and compelling), then consider editing your thoughts. Thank you!


  3. Chelsea, another top freedom activist in New York City a few years ago was Moira Johnston. Have you ever coordinated your efforts with her? She hasn’t been in the news recently.


    1. Moira Johnston was a true pioneer of this work. I respect greatly her effort and investment. I have corresponded with her by email once, briefly. I expressed my thanks to her, she accepted graciously. I took from her brevity that she is taking a well deserved break.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Chelsea,
    I am glad the see that you have been active this season.
    I watched the video of you riding a bicycle in NYC. The total “so what” reaction of pedestrians and motorists to your ride shows how normal it is.
    Monday my sister and I went to the Wisconsin state fair. While walking around checking their variety of “fried foods” a woman walked by. Her right breast was exposed. Her baby was in a sling nursing on her breast. My initial reaction was “natural” and along with people walking around “ho hum” and not even a glace from passer-bys.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Chelsea, the picture of you on the East River Bikeway shows a very beautiful young woman relaxing on her bike ride. I support you in your choice to go barechested. Women should be able to go barechested wherever men do. This is only fair and equal. You blog is very well written and thoughtful. If men have the choice to go barechested, women should have the same choice.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I hope I have said this before, but I wish you and your legal team the best of luck in challenging this ridiculous Ordinance, seemingly going against the Declaration of Independence statement that “all men are created equal” and imposing entirely unnecessary distinctions between people of different genders. Like you said in response to an earlier comment, the day when soccer moms and girls can, if they choose to, dress the same as their male counterparts in the swimming pool without anyone thinking it’s strange or a reason for moral panic is going to be one for celebration. However, it does seem strange to celebrate – or look forward to celebrating – equality, something which should be an inalienable right and not something which needs to be gained through any sort of protest and multiple court cases.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course. Thank you for writing and asking. All I ask personally, and I think I speak for a lot of women, is that those expressions of appreciation come from a place of respect for women as people and not just objects to please men. I enjoy seeing barechested women and men in public. I admire beautiful bodies and physically beautiful people across the spectrum of gender. I’ve never heard any topfreesom activist voice a sentiment that they don’t want people to be able to find people pleasing to look at. I don’t. But we just ask for people to remember that humans reside in these bodies, with feelings, and that above all else people want to feel safe and equal. So yeah, enjoy it. It feels good to do it and to see others do it. And it feels good to have people give thumbs up and smile and say nice things. It’s all about what’s in a person’s heart and intentions when they speak their words, you know? We can tell where a person is coming from and if that person is respecting our humanity or not. Again, thanks for visiting and commenting. Be well.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey Chelsea! Good to see you back, on the blog and in public. Glad to hear you have such a research and legal team going for you. And also that you'[re keeping your spirits up in these trying times. Progress is being made.

    That’s a great NY harbor pic, btw. Too bad the Statue of Liberty can’t join you! (At least there’s the statue of Justice in the main hall at DOJ.)


  8. I wish there was a way to make modest online contributions on your site to help pay for the legal work (or is there?). The work you’re doing right now is extremely important and it merits support from the community.


    1. Thank you. So far, we don’t have any legal fees, thanks to our attorney Devon Jacob, agreeing to take the case without charging us personally. He believes in the cause and has been a quick study on the issues involved. With that said, if we get to the point where we end up with expenses behind our capacity to meet, I will reach out to the community of supporters. For now, we are good. Thank you for the offer!


  9. I thought you might be interested in this article. Again, nipples are causing such a crazy reaction because someone can see them pressing against a shirt. I have light athletic wear under which anyone could tell I had nipples too. I’m sure it’s obvious that she has breasts under her shirt. When men wear jeans, it’s obvious they have a penis. We all can see buttocks under our pants. But it’s the female and only the female nipple that causes problems. Amazing.


    1. I just looked at the comments and they are quite disgusting……
      Some of them even accused her of being selfish. What they don’t get is there’s a line between following to your boss’s orders and following an order that crosses into violation of human rights. I’m hoping that most people support the topfreedom. I expected better from a comment section with 2000 comments in it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Since Trump has been elected as president, I feel people feel entitled to be sexist whenever they please. The comment section concerning in articles about topfreedom have at least half of the comments being negative about this issue. Maybe it always have been, but I feel there would be less slut shaming in these comment section had the articles been posted in the previous year.

        Oh and by the way, what the age range of Yahoo Fiance readers?


        1. Cilia, some people will be sexist (men & women) no matter who is president. Most comments are positive on this site. I support Chelsea because she is right.


          1. I also support her because she’s right. I was talking about the negative comments on one article not the whole websites. I do know lots of people will be sexist no matter what, though I think some people will feel more emboldened to speak when they’ve got a sexist president.


  10. Hi Chelsea, I wanted to share another article with you and get your comments. It’s not specifically about bare chested equality, but I think it gets at the heart of the same issue which really is female objectification. You are fighting the objectification of the female breast. The young woman in this post is fighting catcalling in a very novel and powerful way:


  11. The more I read this blog written by Chelsea (Gingerbread) titled breastsarehealthy. I find the blog is not about barechestness, appeasement to men, law-enforcement, or challenging the views of persons. Yes, the focus is at this moment and time is about barechestness but I see more is implied, and that this blog is about choice, for allowing a woman to represent herself and made her own choices. Whether the choice is to wear make-up or not, have her fingernails manicured or use nail polish or just be natural, to have short hair as opposed to long hair, multi-coloured hair, wear a dress to her ankles or a blouse and skirt or a top and slacks, be bare legged or sport nylons, go casual or formal to a venue, party, or theatre and yes, on a hot microclimate day go about her business bare-chested if she is of mind to. All choices being without subservience to males, beauty consultants, fashion houses, magazines or defiling laws or ordinances of court. Choice is the main-stay of harmony, honour, dignity and respect of human to human connection whether in United States, Canada, England, Russia, Swaziland, Solomon Islands or many of the other countries of this planet. That choice be equally understood by all the human race and that humans be appreciated by showing support towards each other, not split due to gender stereotyping, be it by culture, custom, language or intolerance because of personal, social, inaccurate ill-informed opinions.
    Of course, I speak only of myself not the majority, or a minority, but as a person who has had a belief that male gender has lorded over the female gender far too long in how the female should dress in public, present themselves to the masses, be subservient to males in matters of tolerance or culture or what companions of either female or male they’re allowed to socialize with and whether a life of spinsterhood be tolerated. Yes, being a nun is tolerated as a calling, but man doesn’t want all females taking this attitude, his selfish matter of thinking is what about me, I need a mate, a means to maintain my name by having a son. Also in the present day, a female by male side to show they (the male) succeed in life.
    To my mind this attitude by men, is man based shallow thinking, (that which I voiced in paragraph above), there is a greater power in control of this planet that gives guidance, care and concern regarding humankind. Name of this greater power is varied by nation, culture or creed, but all agree there is only the one greater power. In English based nations the name is Jesus, but other languages there are a multitude of names, all which are acceptable and have validity.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi, I am living in Jamaica where toplessness or nudity isn’t legal and generally it is a prudish society. I have recently found your blog I think you are doing a great job. Recently I was considering forming an organization that promotes clothing optional activities and topfreedom and eventually mount a legal challenge for topfree equality here in Kingston.


    1. That’s awesome. Thank you for writing and sharing your plans with me. I don’t know much about clothing optional or naturist legal issues. My focus is on correcting the current imbalances in America indecency laws and mores. I am always curious about how other cultures and countries handle the issue of top freedom. Feel free to keep me/us up to date on your progress. I wish you good luck, and if I can help in some way, let me know.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. As a long time visitor I’d be curious to know about any laws concerning topfreedom in Jamaica. It would seem most anyone can take their shirt off on a beach and nobody cares. Same goes for minimal swimwear. It doesn’t seem to be a problem, no matter how little coverage. OTOH, full nudity is frowned upon on most public beaches. My personal observation (in Jamaica) is it’s a matter of who controls the property. It could be in full view, but if you are say 50 ft away from a road or other public area then either they turn a blind eye or just don’t care. At a major resort (that pays substantial taxes) they can also do pretty much what they want without worry.


      1. Hello Rupe, thanks for your comment. You are correct in surmising that it depends on who owns the property that will allow nudity. or topfreedom. The resorts that allow Top Freedom in Jamaica are all private resorts and offer that opportunity to persons visiting the country. local women are not allowed to go Top Free on public beaches.


    1. Hey John. Thank you for checking in. We are still working and I hope to have something substantial to share soon. In the meantime, I am well, working hard on this and my other passions, and looking forward to the next chapter. Thank you for thinking of me. Happy New Year.


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