Free the nipple is a buzz phrase in some circles of western society today. However, topless women are rarely celebrated in modern society in a way that is not sexualized. Men’s magazines, tardy tabloids and countless “blogs” and web sites present a view that celebrates free the nipple for the pleasure of male viewers. Some topless advocates speak out against this and more connections for the free the nipple cause. More common in western industrialized nations is advocates for bare chest equality are denounced as ruining society and lax family values. These advocates for bare-chested equality are left to pursue legal challenges. Other folks who have won the legal right remind women all the time that it is a right for everyone.
But there are free the nipple traditions of bare-chested equity and topless freedom outside the western industrialized world. I was reminded of that recently when I came across an article and some images and videos from the Africa. They are moving and still images of celebrations specifically from the Zulu nation in South Africa, the Himba women of Namibia and the people of Guinea Bissau. What was striking about the article and the images was one word. Tradition.
A traditional wedding. A traditional dance at a right of passage ceremony. A traditional carnival celebration. Traditional life.
What is being fought for as a right in much of the western industrialized world is tradition in parts of the African continent. Honestly, I often thought that western colonization and modernization stripped most of the African continent of its roots. After all the western notion of dress for success is deeply embedded in global interactions. But tradition (but reinvented and recently developed) still seems to rise.
I want to salute my African young sisters of the Zulu nation. Who dance bare-chested in the ceremonial reed dance to promote sexual purity. I honor the African queens, who choose to honor their tradition and wed topless. I acknowledge my Himba sisters, who simply live their lives according to traditions top free (and not looking for it). I hail my brothers and sisters from Guinea Bissau (a matriarchal society). Who walk, dance and celebrate bare chested, side by side in a nonsexual celebration of their culture. I encourage the bare chest equality and top freedom advocates in western society, as you strive to free the nipple, look to the example found in the traditions of African cultures.
Himba Women and their children photo from yuyu418
Guinea Bissau carnival photos TransAfrica Togo
Cover Photo by GovernmentZA