Going Topless Is Not the Best Way to Make Any Kind of Statement

Topless womanI like to fancy myself a style aficionada but there are just some trends that leave me feeling empty inside. The whole let’s-wear-Ugg-boots-and-scarves-in-the-summer is one of them. I wait all year to shed the burden of bulky clothing and expose my skin—and my feet!—to the sunshine, so best believe I’m packing all of the above away as soon as the weather breaks.

On the other hand, it’s equally troubling to see women on the other end of the free spectrum thanks to a Kickstarter campaign called Topless New York going sans shirts just because they can. Actually, a little more so.

Look, I’m all for equal rights for us. Girl power all the way. I’m a ride-or-die womanist. However, and that’s a big however, I must also admit I’m socialized to believe that ladies should keep their ta-tas tucked into their shirts, just as much as I believe dudes should keep their man parts parked under a pair of pants. 


So if that makes me less free wheelin’ and footloose, then guilty as charged. Because I’ve gotta tell you: I’ve seen people naked out in public before and I must admit I was ticked off. Not only because it was an assault against civil order but because it was a crime against my poor, innocent eyes and those of other citizens just trying to run to the bank or pick up some dry cleaning or take their kids to the please touch museum.

I would like to remind everyone fighting for women’s right to go topless that not everyone is going to be a perky B cup or a Victoria’s Secret model type. Yikes. (And that includes myself, please believe me. Not everything is fit for public viewin’. Yikes again.) Everyone is beautiful in their own way. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean I want to see that beauty au naturel, no matter what kind of statement it’s making. Write a manifesto or make a speech. But please, keep your shirt upon your body. Please.

A few years ago, Erykah Badu caused a big ol’ stir when she engaged in some renegade video and though I love her—she’s one of my favorite artists ever—I would’ve been highly ticked if I would’ve been walking around with my daughter or my man or worse, my daughter and my man, while she was walking around in her glory. I’m not even sure what kind of message she was trying to send but it hardly seemed worth it except for a fleeting moment of publicity for the stunt.

In the end, what does going topless, even in a non-Girls Gone Wild kind of way, do for the gender? Will it diminish the pay gap that’s been financially and professionally oppressing women forever? Will it somehow create leverage in the corporate world and facilitate a greater understanding of our ability to contribute as credibly, intelligently, and authoritatively as male colleagues? Will it put the kibosh on super sleazy outfits like lingerie athletic leagues and other degrading movements against women? I doubt it.

The Topless New York campaign has its heart in the right place but there are way bigger fish to fry in the fight against flagrant sexism than the right to bare your boobs out in public like a man. I actually think there should be a law against some of that, too.

If going topless makes a statement, what does the statement say?

Image via Foxtongue/Flickr

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