One of our highlights for today’s Women on Wednesdays is the interview conducted by Earl D, Founder Curator and Editor-in-Chief OF clothesfreelife.com, with Cleo of @ToplessTopics. This interview was shared on the clothes free living update broadcast last Friday, April 29, 2016. I invite you to check out that post and listen to what Cleo shared in that interview.
Cleo’s honesty and frankness are qualities I have come to value highly, and it was refreshing for me to hear her perspective on the top freedom movement. She and Gingerbread of Breasts Are Healthy have been my favorite and most trusted resources for a number of reasons.
Firstly, there many insincere p*rn accounts that claim to champion the cause of top freedom for women. These accounts misappropriate the terms “free the nipple” and “top free equality” to creepily collect images of topless women for their social media accounts for sexual arousal and gazed consumption. This becomes clear to me when I see that their feed is literally just of breasts, images that speak to voyeurs and exhibitionists. Humans do not exist on those feeds.
Not only do they prove that they, themselves, can engage in everyday life topfree, but that the rest of the world can be in time and space with them without responding sexually.
However, a deeper reason why I value the contributions of @ToplessTopics and @Breastsarehealthy is because of their nonsexual approach to normalizing female bare chests. There are some accounts that champion top freedom for women, but they frame breasts in the context of sexuality and being “sex positive.” While I do believe that embracing one’s sexuality and sexual expression are important, I don’t see how keeping the conversation about top freedom for women in sexual contexts normalizes female bare chests. Plenty of people embrace and express their sexuality without baring their chests at all. I have. Beyond that, many societies already see female breasts as sexual, and with that, judge them as something to be suppressed. In other words, breasts as sexual objects is nothing new for the cultures in which female bare chests are illegal. In fact, that is why the bare chests were deemed illegal in the first place. In my opinion, normalizing female bare chests cannot happen if the conversations stays solely in the realm of sexuality.
@ToplessTopics and @Breastsarehealthy do an excellent job of discussing top freedom in everyday contexts based on their own personal experiences as well as their observations and efforts. They cover a wide range of issues; including public breastfeeding, the challenges of engaging these conversations on the Internet, including trolls and demeaning comments from the anonymous public; law; psychology and much more. The videos and images of themselves are ones where they are engaged in activities that everyone else is doing in public: simply walking down the street, sitting on the beach, reading, working, having a conversation with friends and family, etc. They show themselves simply being human in everyday life.
By placing female bare-chestedness in the context of everyday life, women like @ToplessTopics and @Breastsarehealthy promote and prove the neutrality of female breasts. In fact, not only do they prove that they, themselves, can engage in everyday life topfree and demonstrate their humanity by sharing their own stories, but they also show that the rest of the world can be in time and space with them without responding sexually. They prove that society can, in fact, move forward; in some cases, it might already be there, whether or not the constituents already knew it. That is the groundbreaking work.