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Free the Nipple is an equality movement focused upon gender inequalities and double standards regarding the censorship of female breasts. The campaign is not necessarily a crusade that exclusively advocates for women to bare their chests at any and all given times; rather, it seeks to strip society of its tendencies toward the sexualization and oppression of the female body, addressing hypocrisies and inconsistencies in American culture and legal systems that enforce its taboos. Ultimately, the campaign resolves to decriminalize female toplessness in the US and empower women across nations in a greater effort toward global gender equality.

History Edit

At the turn of the 20th century, all bared nipples—including males'—were a violation of public nudity laws in the US. In fact, the human areola was viewed as being extraordinarily crude ("immoral and evil") for both men and women throughout this time.[1] In the early 1930s, however, a group of four men began initial protests for their right to wear shirtless swim trunks. The men, who wandered about the hot beaches of Coney Island completely topless, were subsequently arrested. This motion gave rise to later events in 1935 in which 42 men flaunted their bare chests on an Atlantic City beach and were consequently apprehended en masse. Come 1936, the state of New York lifted the ban on male toplessness, deeming men's nipples "commonplace and natural."[2] This development paved the way for a 1986 boycott by seven topless women in Rochester, NY, whose case was taken to the New York Supreme Court and resulted in the 1992 ruling that all people, male or female, have the right to go topless in New York.[3]

Despite changes in statutes and regulations legalizing toplessness for women in a number of states, women are still at risk for being charged with public indecency, disturbing the peace, or lewd behavior.[4] As a case in point, a Ms. Phoenix Feeley was arrested and incarcerated for being topless in the state of New York in the year 2005. Because these charges were proven erroneous—considering female toplessness had been legal for nearly 15 years in the state of New York—Feeley was released and later received $29,000 in damages.[5]

Miley CyrusEdit

Miley Cyrus has publicly supported the Free the Nipple campaign. On December 28, 2014, she posted a topless photo of herself on Instagram.

According to "Miley Cyrus Frees Her Nipples in Topless Instagram Photo"[6]

Cyrus, with 13 million followers, is the biggest celebrity to openly challenge Instagram's infamous fear of exposed areolae, but she's not the first: Chelsea Handler famously had her topless photos taken down 3 times, and Rihanna quit Instagram for months after the site kept banning her boobs.


  1. Esco, Lina. "From Susan B. Anthony to Gender In-Equality" Huffington Post, New York, 10 June 2014. Retrieved on 20 January 2015.
  2. Esco, Lina. "Facebook Wages War on the Nipple" Huffington Post, New York, 7 January 2014. Retrieved on 20 January 2015.
  3. GoTopless "GoTopless Timeline" Retrieved on 1 March 2015.
  4. Gerson Uffalussy, Jennifer. "The Weird, Wild Legal History of Breasts and Nipples". Yahoo, California, 12 December 2014. Retrieved on 20 January 2015.
  5. NBC News. "NYC pays $29,000 over topless arrest" Associated Press, New York, 18 June 2007. Retrieved on 1 March 2015.
  6. Hatahaway, Jay. "Miley Cyrus Frees Her Nipples in Topless Instagram Photo" Gawker, New York, 29 December 2014. Retrieved on 23 March 2015.