Archives for category: testimonial

IMG_2872The law in New York says that women have the same right as men do to go bare-chested in public places. Not some women — all women.

IMG_2737Accordingly, we invite all women to join us at our events, regardless of race, age, shape, size, sexuality, religion, or any other attribute. If you’re female,  we welcome you. And you have the same rights as any male.

IMG_2791But not every female feels like she has the same rights, or the same freedom to exercise those rights. So we sometimes take extra pains to encourage those who might feel unsure if the law applies to them, too.

IMG_2751To give one example: we’ve been contacted repeatedly over the years by students — still in school or on summer break — who’ve written things like, “I love and support what your group does, and someday I hope to be able to take part in it.” And when we ask, What’s stopping you? they answer, “I can’t yet…can I?”

IMG_2623Of course they can — if (for instance) a high school senior or college freshman who happens to be male can take his shirt off to play frisbee in Central Park, the law says his classmate who happens to be female can do the same thing. Equal rights for all means equal rights for all. But while male students stride easily around Sheep Meadow with a confidence born of never having questioned their body’s suitability for public display (privilege, anyone?), female students hide and agonize and wish the world were different — or don’t even think to wish that, since they’ve been taught from childhood that their bodies must be covered. The more progressive among them might have a vague sense that at some point it becomes okay for them to take their shirts off too…but when, exactly, they don’t know. When they turn 18? When they turn 20? 21? When they graduate from college? When they’re no longer living under their parents’ roof…?

Our answer: when you want to. And no time like the present.

IMG_2733cSo a few weeks ago we held a special event. We invited two dozen students from schools all around the city to join us for a picnic near the Great Hill in Central Park.  They were joined by a few members of our group who aren’t too far removed from that age group themselves, to help introduce all the first-timers to what we do. It was perfect picnic weather and everyone came prepared to relax and enjoy some time outdoors.

IMG_2440IMG_2459IMG_2671There were books to read–

IMG_2742IMG_2538There were snacks to eat.

IMG_2695-rIMG_2726We all introduced ourselves, and discovered just how much we had in common. (This despite the group randomly being one of the most diverse we’ve ever assembled.)

IMG_2857IMG_2883IMG_2663IMG_2889And we did all of this bare from the waist up. Not one passer-by complained or gave us a hard time or did anything to make us uncomfortable. In that regard, it was no different from most of the other events we’ve held in parks around town over the past seven summers. But what made it different was that almost everyone there was bare-chested in public for the first time — and that many of the participants, if you’d asked them a few weeks earlier, would probably have said they weren’t even sure they were allowed to do it. This was liberation in a very literal sense.

IMG_2534IMG_2539After the event, we asked everyone who took part if they wanted to share any thoughts about what the experience was like. Here are some examples of what people said:

The event was amazing. To me going topless outside in a public place felt wonderful. I’ve never felt more at peace with myself. It was so relaxing to be in a judgment-free zone where everyone can be comfortable with their bodies and not feel ashamed….I love the fact that it’s legal for a female to walk around topless just like men. It sucks that not as many girls are aware that it is legal and most girls are “embarrassed” about their bodies. Overall girls should be able to do the same things boys do, like being topless without caring what people think/say. 

IMG_2842It was my first time going completely shirtless today and at first i was really nervous but i wanted to do this because girls should have the right to. So many people making a big deal about it. It seems like the norm is to sexualize everything that’s natural. I would love to do this again because it made me feel confident. 

IMG_2720It was definitely a fun and new experience for me! Overall I was surprised by how normal it all felt. I just hung out with my friends in the park like I always do and I enjoyed the freedom of it. I do think it’s important for women to know their rights on this issue especially considering how hot and humid it can get in New York, and how ultimately it is really not a big deal.

IMG_2796I was so pleasantly surprised at how natural it felt to be in a park, topless. Being surrounded by so many other beautiful smiling women helped ease the initial shock of showing up alone to a topless picnic in the park. I’ve gone topless on beaches in parts of Europe, but never in the United States so it felt good to apply the NY law to reality and take my top off! I very much look forward to doing it again!

IMG_2562The girls were very sweet and I really liked the event. Although girls in general can be very competitive and judgmental, these women were very accepting towards each other’s different body types and were able to have great conversations regardless of them meeting a few hours ago! Everyone was so comfortable and open amongst each other. They were topless for non-sexual reasons which made it empowering and I think more women should try it. 

IMG_2876It was so nice being able to let loose with my fellow ladies; definitely took me out of my comfort zone for a little bit, but still a great time! 

IMG_2646I was initially really nervous about this event. I wasn’t sure how comfortable I’d feel being topless or if the experience would be awkward or not. When I arrived, however, I felt welcomed by the group and soon I didn’t feel awkward at all. Everyone was very kind and the good conversation quickly took my mind off of the fact that I was topless. By the end of the first half hour, I felt quite comfortable and I was no longer self conscious. I honestly believe that every woman should experience being topless at least once, to dispel any concern or apprehension about it. This event marked my first time going topless, but I very well may do it again in the future. 

IMG_2868Listen to what they’re saying: It felt natural, normal, non-judgmental. It made me feel confident. How can anyone hear these women’s voices and not recognize that this is an unambiguously good thing, a healthy thing, a healing thing?

IMG_2556In our opinion, a topless field trip to Central Park should be part of the curriculum of every school in the city. This is how you raise well-adjusted, healthy girls and self-confident young women, ones who respect their own bodies and each others’.

But until the School Chancellor shares our point view (and we’re not holding our breath), we’re proud to do our part.

IMG_2551And so we say to the female students of New York (as we do to every other group of women in the city): the law does apply to you. Women’s rights are your rights. Be smart, be safe — but be confident too, and don’t let anyone tell you your body is one iota less prideworthy than your brothers’.

And if you need help taking the leap for the first time, we’re here for you. Just email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. You’ll be out in nature in no time — and you’ll wonder what took you so long.

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img_4541Summer has, at last and alas, come to an end — but that has never stopped us before and won’t stop us this year. There may yet be a warm day or two in October and November (one year we even met in the park in December!), and if not, we’ll find indoor spots to enjoy while waiting for the Spring. In the meantime, though, a colder, damper season has replaced sun-streaked days.

img_4338Before it settled in in earnest, on the last 90-degree day of the year (technically one of the first days of autumn), we enjoyed a valedictory visit to our favorite rooftop sundeck, where we devoured French pastries, California strawberries, and Caribbean rum.

img_4322The event was also a debut of sorts, since we had not one, not two, but half a dozen first-timers in attendance — people who’d not only never come to one of our events before but who, in some cases, had never gone nude outdoors before, or in front of strangers. We asked if any of them would like to share their experience with you, and two of them took us up on it:

To be completely and openly honest (wrote the first), I was slightly terrified of attending my first time with the Topless Pulp Fiction crew. When I would scroll through the blog I felt excited and for lack of a better word, empowered, by their message and ideas that directly coincided with my own. Packing a towel and book before coming, I felt this same wave of excitement. But the minutes walking from the train, leading up to meeting the group, was a moment of panic.

Meeting new people is always abstractly scary in some way, but meeting new people with the known fact that the group celebrates, de-sexualizes, and normalizes women’s bodies; well that’s a whole new level of scary.

But somewhere between slipping off my shoes and feeling the last proper summer warmth in my feet, I opened up.

That isn’t to say I immediately shed my clothes, but the walls I put up in normal conversation, just didn’t show up. I’ve never felt like I knew a group of people so well, with barely even knowing their names.

I think what makes the experience special and emotionally rewarding is that suddenly all the physical barriers society has created and rudely placed upon us, have been stripped away. I was no longer making small talk about my job, I was having a critical discussion about my industry with someone who I had known for 5 minutes. I felt a strong emotional connection to women (and men, shockingly) who didn’t come to ogle my body, but to make friends and truly indulge in the human experience. 

I really thought this Mercury Retrograde was going to fuck with me, but it directed me right into the hands of new friends, new experiences, and brought an action to my politics. Well played, Topless Pulp Fiction.

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And here’s what the second had to say, in a piece she titled “Eden”:

I was naked in the middle of New York City. Outside on a rooftop, with a crowd of people I’d never met, there I was with my bare butt in a soft chair, eating a chocolate chip cookie and drinking a bottle of water. And everyone around me, including my husband, was similarly naked.

No, it was not some weird dream. It was real. And weirder still, to some at least, might be the fact that I identify as a Modern Orthodox Jew. Yes – it was a Friday, and my husband and I stayed for about an hour before heading home so we could make it on time to prepare for Shabbas (the Jewish Sabbath).

To many, this makes no sense – I’m a contradiction! Isn’t my religion incompatible with such an activity? Shouldn’t my body be only for the eyes of my husband? If I’m so religious, then where’s my modesty?

Modesty. What does it mean?

When nakedness is discussed in Genesis in the Bible, it is associated with shame. Adam and Eve had just eaten the apple, realized they were naked, and felt ashamed.

Shame. What does it mean?

Modesty, to me, means having something to be proud of, something beautiful, yet not bragging about it or showing it off. Shame, to me, means having something to be guilty of, something ugly, and therefore hiding it.

I am a contradiction because the body is a contradiction.

So what is the body? Should we be proud of it? Ashamed of it? And should we hide it either way?

To me, the body is nothing to be ashamed of, and I chose to come to our naked rooftop gathering because it is my way of spitting out a piece of the apple – a way of seeing what it might have been like in the beginning in Eden.

I agree that the body is beautiful, because God created it. Like any gift of God, it can be misused and lusted after. So to protect it from such misuse and lust, we hide it. But it is only misused and lusted after when it is seen as a solely sexual object.

There is a fear of who we might become if we were let loose from law: William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, comes to mind. Civilization equals protection; it is how we save us from ourselves. The moment we return to our natural state, we risk turning into “beasts” that have no control over ourselves. No, we must hide from our nakedness, under masks that disguise our true nature – beasts temporarily restrained by the cage of civilization, who would no sooner come out of our clothes than we would jump on the next naked member of our species we see.  

But at our rooftop event, I was surrounded by people who, I feel very sure, recognize that the body is more than a sexual object. And as we recognize that the body is more than sexual, we recognize that humans are more than we can imagine.

img_4329It may not be warm outdoors anymore — at least not in the narrow sense captured by thermometers. But in the ways that count, there’s no shortage of warmth to be had. We want to thank our newest members for so powerfully demonstrating that.

img_4512Won’t you join us too? Email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com, tell us a little about yourself, and perhaps together we’ll  discover what naked pleasures we can unlock while the rest of the world is jack o’lanterning, turkeying, caroling, and hibernating.

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One of the participants in our first outing anonymously posted the blog entry excerpted below—we don’t know who it was (we found it in a Google search for “Washington Square” and “topless”…), but we were tickled to hear how much she enjoyed herself!

Adventures with the Topless Book Club (Why You Should Go Topless, Too.)

It was a sunny day. I hate to say it, because most stories with happy endings start out by telling you it’s a sunny day, trying to be clever and using the sun smiling down on their world as some quasi-deep metaphor. But, really, it was a sunny day, and that’s what made it all possible.

We were like a scene from the movies. Six young, thin, pretty girls sunbathing in Central Park, with some goofy mom and dad figures to make it just wholesome enough for family viewing. Dad was telling stories about his job and Mom was snapping pictures.

And oh my God, I was topless. We were all topless, except Mom and Dad, who were actually just two good friends who liked to keep their tops on and helped us shoo away unwanted attention.

But more importantly, I was topless. Like those girls in Europe who sunbathe without tops and never have tan lines. Actually, one or two of those girls were sitting next to me. One of the girls was from England and had a pretty British accent… She was so comfortable with her breasts that she hadn’t even worn a bra to travel in.

I couldn’t even make the trek to our picnic spot braless.

For all my ranting about The Evil Patriarchy’s attempts to control my body, I’ve never actually done anything about it. When a cousin mentioned topless sunbathing in Europe, I immediately pictured myself laid out on the beach, reading a book, and applying sun block to my breasts without the slightest glance from anyone else. I looked up a list of topless beaches and discounted them quickly once I realized none of them were accessible by train. (A dedicated New Yorker, I refuse to learn how to drive.)

But, Google saves the day! It’s time for me to blow your mind. Are you ready? In New York, women can go topless anywhere a man can. Heck yeah for equality.

And so, I rounded up some adventurous friends of friends of friends and we set the date for the only day that week my iPhone’s weather app didn’t have a stormy cloud with a thunderbolt next to it. The first meeting of the Topless Book Club. I was excited. I was pumped. I was scared shitless.

We all were.

We sat around on our blankets looking conspicuously at each other. A top off there, a string pulled here. But no one was willing to make the plunge alone, so we counted off and unclasped our bra straps and untied our bikini tops and sat frozen, unsure of what would happen next.

I waited for a mill of people to surround us. For women to walk by and call us names. For men to touch us and say skeevy things. But that never came.

The sun kept shining and we were left alone, for the most part.

I’d had the vague sense that I’d feel used, manipulated, and dirty with the girls on display, and was only slightly alarmed when I realized I felt so comfortable I was about to fall asleep. The sun’s warmth, which had felt like a laser when I first took my top off, was tricking me into idleness with its soft (non-dirty) caress. I had a book, some water, and a pair of newly acquired sunglasses to hide my identity from any family members wandering through the park. My breasts weren’t sweating against the heavy padding of my bra and I was finally evening out my tan. It was the most relaxed I’d felt since childhood.

It’s on my journey to Sleepy Comfortable Land that I learned just how shameless the male population of NYC can be. Three men came up to us asking for pictures–not only of us, but with us, as well. A French tourist wanted a posed picture of us pointing to something out of frame. One guy came up to us asking to “just hang out.” We decided it was time to move Operation Topless Book Club.

We settled on a grassy patch in Washington Square Park, where the men were much more respectful, and chose to do their picture taking from afar. One guy did get a little space-invasion-y with a fellow Topless Book Clubber, but retreated with many an apology after Dad intervened.

I was too blissed out to bother with conversation. I was busy trying to figure out a position that would allow for optimal breast tan-age as well as comfortable reading, while blocking the sun out of my face. I settled for shielding my face with the book, which was surprisingly engrossing, and sacrificing comfort altogether. I read on and hoped that my tan would even out nicely.

Before I knew it, our day was over. But no one seemed in a hurry to get back into their tops, so we lounged around for a few more minutes before deciding we were hungry. In the interest of our stomachs, we put our tops back on and made our way to an early dinner.

Topless sunbathing wasn’t as scary as I thought. Actually, it wasn’t scary at all. Reactions ranged from nothing at all to only slightly creepy. I’d like to attribute the number of men who came up to us as a consequence of our large group, but hopefully that won’t stop the Topless Book Club from striking again. It was the most perfect day I’ve had in a long time.

PS: If you’re ever in New York go to Shade on West 3rd Street. Best. Crepe. Ever.