Miami Beach is one of the few public places in America where topless woman aren't so much as a spectacle as they are a regular part of sun bathing society. Sure, tourists from the heartland can't help but gawk, but locals and international visitors are pretty used to it. Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams wonders if the rest of America should lessen its inhibitions and have a more Miami Beach attitude toward lady toplessness. Though, she takes it a bit further: toplessness not just on the beach, but on the streets, too.
Last week, in Portland, Maine, where toplessness isn't technically illegal, a group of two dozen female protesters walked sans shirt and bra through the streets to draw attention to society's double standard on above the waste nudity. Though the Portland Press-Herald noted that they attracted "several hundred boisterous and mostly male onlookers, many of them carrying cameras."
Say what you will it about its ability to create a stir, toplessness doesn't violate public nudity laws in Maine, nor does it where I live, New York City ...But though we painted hussies of Gotham have a legal right to take our shirts off in public, we rarely if ever seem to exercise it. In contrast, on any day the temperature goes above 55 degrees, we're guaranteed a get an eyeful of male shirtlessness. I'm not going to lie - some of it is distractingly, fabulously great. Some of it is hauntingly grotesque. But there is always plenty of it to go around. Why shouldn't women of all shapes enjoy the option of T-shirt free sunbathing or stoop sitting on summer nights with the same equanimity our male counterparts do? In fact, given the amount of cleavage, belly, and butt crack my female neighbors already seem comfortable flaunting, why don't we?
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Though the double standard persists.
Even in Miami Beach, where topless sunbathing isn't abnormal, if a woman decided to get up and cross Ocean Drive to get a mid-afternoon snack at News Cafe all without putting her top back on, she'd certainly garner more attention than if she stayed on the sandy shore, especially from the police. Though, no one blinks an eye when a guy does the same thing.
Though, even the toplessness on the beach draws ire. There's a reason the non-topless Key Biscayne beach is often called a "family beach," and the libertine attitude towards boobs is often cited as a reason why some families with children don't feel comfortable vacationing in the city.
So what do you think? Should the rest of America, at the very least, allow topless sunbathing on their beaches? Or should we one up the rest of America and extend the "live and let topless" attitude to the streets of South Beach as well?