Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Monday, 24 August 2015

Hundreds Of Topless Protestors March To #FreeTheNipple Around The World

Hundreds Of Topless Protestors March To #FreeTheNipple Around The World

The Debrief: They want topless equality to remain legal, meanwhile, topless female protestors took to 60 other cities around the world to declare they want the right to go just as topless as men do...

We’ve all heard of the social media movement to #freethenipple, where people will upload photos of themselves, or even someone modelling topless in some sort of arty fashion campaign, to Instagram or Facebook and wait for them to be taken down by disgruntled moderators. But rarely does it cross over into real-life living, breathing nudity.

But this weekend, hundreds of women – and men– took to New York’s Time Square to protest – half-naked – against plans to remove an entire pedestrianised area where many women make money by going topless. Brandishing signs saying ‘Nipple Pride!’ and ‘Women’s breasts are family friendly!’ and boobs painted with slogans like ‘EQUAL RIGHTS!’

It’s not even illegal for a woman to walk around topless in New York. Yet. But while the protest was synchronised in 60 different locations around the world, including Edinburgh, where it's not legal to be topless, the protest in New York had an extra political meaning.

You see, there’s a tradition of topless women with painted breasts to stroll around without getting public indecency arrests in Times Square. Here, just like the Naked Cowboy will walk around with his chest out, women (up to 40 at a time) will wear nothing but a layer of paint and pose with tourists for photos in return for cash. It’s not quite as masterful as busking, but neither are those people in Covent Garden (and wherever else there are gullible tourists in the UK) who spray themselves with metallic colours and stand on hovering illusion contraptions in return for money all day every day.

It’s not illegal to panhandle (ask for money) in New York, but mayor Bill De Blasio is so adamant that this enterprise ‘is wrong, it’s just wrong’ that he’s considering closing the entire pedestrian plaza.

Hundreds Of Topless Protestors March To #FreeTheNipple Around The World

‘The current activity is not per se against the law, but if we add additional laws that address the obvious business nature of what’s going on,’ he told the New York Observer, before adding, ‘It will allow us the possibility of and the ability to very aggressively enforce those laws.’

He’s got the crime commissioner on his side, but a councilman (that’s American for councillor) who represents half of Times Square says this move would be ridiculous ‘The Times Square plazas have provided a safe haven for pedestrians who previously had to navigate very narrow and overcrowded sidewalks right next to fast traffic’ Dan Garodnick said, adding: ‘Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here.’

‘Free your mind! Free your nipples!’ shouted Kate Lombardo, a 26-year-old co-organiser of the protest, reports the NY Daily News (a tabloid that has been putting the naked women on its covers for the past few days). ‘Men can walk around shirtless all the time. Why can’t we? I love it, This is about the genders being equal.’

Luna Vega, a 25-year-old who doesn’t normally go topless but did this time, said she was there because, ‘I support them. They are just trying to make a living.’

Meanwhile, one guy watching from the sidelines chirped up, ‘I came here to watch tits.’

It’s not yet known if the protest was successful in changing De Blasio’s mind.

Like this? You might also be interested in:

We Spoke To The Woman Behind Cara's #FreeTheNipple T-Shirt

Could The Covert Creep-Shots Be Behind Why None Of Us Sunbathe Topless Anymore?

Why I'm Learning To Love My 'Weird' Nipples

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Pictures: Rex

Tags: Around The World, Body worries