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Go Topless Day 2018

By Jeniffer Johnson

October 18, 2018

Positivity, excitement, and respect are just a few of the feelings that I felt buzzing through the crowd at the Topless Day Parade 2018. I had been waiting all year for this event, recollecting the previous year many times over with my close friend Camille. Preparation began weeks in advance; the body paint trial runs, the endless Pinterest searches, and of course, the masterful creation of the perfect “Topless Day Parade Playlist”.  When we arrive to Skyline Park in Denver, Colorado I am dazzled.

There is live music, body painting, and a mix of people sunbathing in the green grassy square. The park is right in the middle of downtown Denver, passerby’s setting up camp to view the spectacle. Nearly every person I see is not wearing a shirt. Men, women, young, old, black, white, cis, trans…none of that matters right now. In this moment, we are all just humans gathering in the fight for human rights.

The Go Topless Movement’s purpose is to end sexism against women’s bodies, and to create a body inclusive space. It is based in the ideal that all genders are equal and therefore anybody should be able to be topless in the way that men are able to be without being scrutinized or sexualized. Women’s breasts and nipples are over sexualized, and this event works to reverse that. By being topless and exposing people to bare chests, we take away the shock factor of uncovered breasts, and start to normalize nipples. The movement also recognizes that each and every one of our bodies is different, and that there is no shame in that, regardless of shape, size, or color. We are each beautiful in our special and unique way. Our bodies are strong vessels that bring us through an entire lifetime, so we should give them some love.

It starts to become overcast and then begins to rain, but just shortly before the march is set to start, blue skies and sunshine emerge from the clouds. It’s going to be a great day. We all rally together and begin our march down 16th Street Mall, marching past families eating lunch, business partners getting coffee, and commuters on the bus. Our energy is rumbling through the walls and echoing down the street. The power of our crowd of topless protestors is a shockwave to the once quiet avenue.

We receive some turned away faces, some nasty glares, and some hidden eyes. But we receive tenfold in supportive cheers, gleaming faces, and clapping hands. People ask me what we are marching for, is it legal, and can they join. I tell them our purpose and inform that they are welcome to join us! While laws vary from place to place, it is completely legal for anyone to be topless in Denver, CO. Our presence grows stronger as people join our cause. Everyone has their phone out, recording the scene, and sharing with their friends. I feel a sense of pride and comradery as I walk with my fellow advocates. When I am with this group of people, I feel no shame for the flab on my arms, or the rolls on my belly. I feel completely and one hundred percent safe as a woman for the first time. I know that I am free to walk topless, and that all of the people surrounding me are there to support me, respect me, and protect me in that right. I am not fearful of being attacked, for I am surrounded by family. A family that values me and accepts me just as I am. A family that stands up for itself and those around it. A family that advocated for the rights of all. A family that shakes the ground and rocks buildings. A family that progressively writes history. I am among the Topless Day Family.

I encourage everyone to investigate the Go Topless Movement and maybe try it out yourself. Everyone is welcome to join. While it may be nerve-wracking to think about going topless, just remember that you can wear whatever you want! Nipples, pasties, paint, shirts…. it all goes! The parade is held annually on August 26th, which is Women’s Equality Day. If you want to find out more information about the event, you can visit gotopless.org or DenverGoTopless.com

Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in each article is the opinion of its author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the PUGS editors, Gender Studies program, or UNC. Therefore, PUGS e-zine carries no responsibility for the opinion expressed thereon.