Man, is it already World Go Topless Day? It seems like just yesterday, it was Memorial Day! Now it's already the end of August, and it's time yet again to publicly support women's right to not have their bodies sexualized against their wills by sexist and outdated nudity laws. Man, it comes earlier and earlier every year, right?
I kid, I kid; but while you may not yet be able to find a commemorative mug at Hallmark celebrating the annual holiday dedicated to reaffirming a woman's right to go topless in public, you should be paying attention to it. Go Topless Day, an annual event that falls towards the end of August, is presented by the activist group Go Topless, which champions the rights of women to go topless in public situations where men are permitted to frolic shirtless (the official activism term is "topfreedom"). And while the issue of female toplessness on social media has been getting a lot of press in recent years — especially the Instagram-related "Free the Nipple" movement — it turns out that here, in the real world, our nips are also often less than free.
Laws on female public toplessness are so inconsistent, it is downright ludicrous. Not only do they vary from state to state, but also from city to city within each state; so while 28 states legally protect a woman's right to go out in public without a top on, many cities within that state have local ordinances that classify a topless woman in public as someone engaging in "disorderly conduct" and subject to fines and other penalties. For example, female toplessness is legal in California, but in Los Angeles's Venice, topless female sunbathing remains illegal. And even when being topless is legal in a city, cops and others who don't know the details of the law are sometimes known to hassle everyone from breastfeeding mothers to models posing for photos.
Of course, laws banning female toplessness are beyond sexist — with their implication that women's bodies are sexual and sexualized at all times, in all contexts, whether we want them to be or not, even if we're just trying to beat the heat and sunbathe in the park in peace. Your boobs are yours to do whatever you want with — but if you feel that they deserve to get some of the August sunshine as much as any dude's pecs (or just want a really even tan), you may want to celebrate this year's Go Topless Day.
But given the inconsistent nature of toplessness laws, how do you make sure your topless celebration doesn't end with the weirdest phone call you've ever had to make to your parents ("Hi, Mom? Can you come bail my boobs out of jail?")? Try celebrating in one of the 12 cities below, which Go Topless confirms are "topless tested," meaning that you can parade your melons like they're the stars of their own ticker tape parade there and no law enforcement will hassle you. Hey, maybe you should make a road trip of it! Just make sure you've noted all the parts of the trip where you have to put your shirt back on.
1. Asheville, NC
In addition to having progressive attitudes about nudity, this hippie-ish haven is located near the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains and the historic Biltmore House, and I can personally attest that almost all the food there is delish. Like, almost too delish.
2. Austin, TX
What can you do once you're finished marching your breasts up and down Sixth Street, the city's historic music and entertainment district? Take a tip from my secret boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, and head over to Franklin Barbecue (where you will probably have to wear a shirt, but it will probably be worth it).
3. Boulder, CO
Want to unleash your own boulders at a really high altitude? Then you're in the right place. Afterwards, you can enjoy some of the city's scenic beauty, take in a game by the Boulder County Bombers roller derby league, or track down my weirdest ex, who supposedly moved here with one of those RVs that run on food grease (but honestly who even knows?).
4. Columbus, OH
Columbus is not just home to a top-notch university and world-famous zoo; it's a place where you can march your fried eggs up and down the streets, and then perhaps top things off with a nice (clothed) drink at the Ace of Cups.
5. Eugene, OR
Honestly, you probably won't be the only person exercising your topfreedom in this bastion of progressive living, no matter what day you're visiting.
6. Honolulu, HI
You're in Hawaii! Why were you even wearing clothes to begin with?!
7. Keene, NH
Parade your pumpkins in a city well-known for its Pumpkin Festival.
8. Madison, WI
Beer! Cheese! A world-famous university! A place to take out your boobs! Wisconsin's state capital truly has it all.
9. New York, NY
I suggest re-enacting the Midnight Cowboy "I'm walkin' here!" scene, but with no shirt on; it will probably be the third-most unusual thing to happen during that driver's commute.
10. Portland, OR
Doff your top here and then lecture everyone about how life in Portland is "nothing like Portlandia, OK?" in a really world-weary way.
11. Santa Fe, NM
Little-known fact: If you take a topless photo in front of the Georgia O'Keefe Museum, you win feminism forever and everyone you meet is legally required to acknowledge it.
12. Washington, DC
How does a bill become a law? How does a boob become a boob that is a little sweatier than it was when you left the house this morning? Find out by spending Go Topless Day in our nation's capital!
Images: Comedy Central, Giphy (12)