The True Power That Comes From Going Topless in Public
There’s always been a double standard when it comes to going topless in public. While people without boobs can walk, run or just be in public, topless and free, there’s literal laws against people with boobs freeing their nips in public spaces.
Despite endless #FreeTheNipple revolutions, from social media campaigns to physical protests throughout history; people with boobs have been fighting to set them free for decades.
But somehow, going topless in public is still a huge taboo. I say this as someone with boobs. When I’m topless in public, I can feel the tension.
The other night, I was at the beach with a friend. It was a beautiful balmy Aussie summer eve and he wanted to go skinny dipping. I did too, but I was nervous. Not like, big nerves. Just those little butterflies that bubble to the surface before you get naked in front of someone else. There’s this feeling of anxiousness. Is my body good enough? Is it ideal? And beautiful? Will it be sexualised? Do I want it to be?
I closed my eyes and lifted my crop top over my head. The nerves turned into euphoria as my top hit the sand and I ran, breasts bouncing wild and free, into the ocean.
It’s not as though we want to be running around in a world where no one wears a top — because let’s be honest, we’d all be wildly distracted. It would just be nice to have the option.
“Ever since I could remember, I’ve always loved being topless,” Ellie Sedgwick, founder of Comfortable In My Skin, tells POPSUGAR Australia.
Sedgwick says that despite society not deeming her breasts “ideal” or “beautiful” or “attractive”, she’s always been comfortable with how they look.
“They’re about two cup sizes different in size, I have huge areolas and as I’ve gotten older, gravity has certainly sent my boobs further downward — but I’m just super-duper comfortable with how they look and I love walking around without a top on.”
In opposition to how society treats naked boobs, Ellie feels the most uncomfortable in places that don’t allow her to have her top off.
And she has a reason to feel that way. As an empowered woman at ease with her naked body, she is constantly coming up against the constructs of society that attempt to fiercely remind her to “cover up”. A few months ago, in fact, she was dancing in a nightclub in Sydney. She was surrounded by topless men on the dance floor — and loving it! — which made her feel inspired to get topless, too.
However, the security guards and cops were not having it. They kicked Ellie out of the club. They told her that her “female nipples were offensive”. None of the topless men were kicked out.
“Before any of that happened, when I was on the dance floor with my top off, I felt empowered and beautiful and free.”
So, Why Do We Struggle to Feel Empowered When Topless?
We just need to see more boobs, more often, Sedgwick says.
“The fact that legally, in Australia, the female nipple and/or breast is offensive, says so much about how our society views female bodies,” she says.
“They’re a vehicle for sex, to be sexualised in order to be celebrated or appreciated. When we sexualise things, we put heaps of pressure on them to be perfect, because we’re taught to care about what other people think of how we look and how sexy our body makes them feel.
“So, if you lump that pressure on top of the lack of realistic representation and conversation around breasts, then you get this negative stigma.”
It’s becoming a tale as old as time; women needing to break down the walls of aesthetic expectation, in order to be healthy and empowered.
Because the truth is, despite what we see in porn or on the beach in Byron Bay; a very small percentage of people have what society deems to be the “perfect boobs”. And those people probably see flaws.
How Can We Get More Comfortable With Our Naked Boobs?
Consume as much boob content as possible, or, as Sedgwick calls it, “small exposure therapy”.
Follow people on Instagram, like Sedgwick (you can find her IG here), who talk about their bodies in an open and empowered way. If you want to expose yourself to all things boobs, specifically, you can listen to her Titty Talks here or look at wholesome booby pics until your heart is content here.
Looking at your own boobs in the mirror and giving them love, is also super important, says Sedgwick.
“Do normal things topless. Every morning and night, I brush my teeth and do my skincare routine topless, and look at myself in the mirror while saying nice things to my body.”
It’s a self-care and self-love routine all in one that feels a bit awkward at first. But according to Sedgwick, over time, you’ll get used to it.
“You just have to push through the shame and discomfort that is so deeply ingrained,” she says.
Getting topless around people you love and feel comfortable with, is also a nice way to ease into feeling fully free with your breasts.
“Do a little dinner with close friends where everyone is topless. It’ll be weird and fun and maybe a little horny, but it’s a great way to get comfortable being topless around others. If we can’t be topless in public places, then we can create public places for nudity of our own.”
And Why Should We Be Topless More Often?
Ultimately, being comfortable topless and feeling the power that comes with freeing your body, can help you to build deeper connections with others and within yourself. Whether that be sexual, romantic, emotional and/or platonic; you’re able to build trust and confident self love.
“Once you’re comfortable with being topless for yourself and around your friends, it’s easier to be topless in the bedroom. You’ll find yourself feeling empowered to take your top off, rather than nervous and afraid of what the other person will think of your boobs.
“It’s really just a journey towards self-acceptance and love,” she says.
Because after all, we accept the love we think we deserve.