The ‘free the nipple’ movement has made great strides as it was recently ruled that women in six US states are now legally allowed to go topless in public.
Following a multi-year battle stemming from a Fort Collins, Colorado city ordinance banning women from being publicly shirtless, a new ruling by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has officially deemed it unconstitutional to prohibit women from going topless in public.
As the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over over six states, this ruling extends to Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma. Towns in these cities are now effectively barred from creating laws prohibiting public toplessness.
The Manhattan City Commission also recently amended their code to allow women to legally go topless. There are, however, still restrictions to this freedom. In Manhattan, property owners and businesses may still require all patrons to wear shirts.
This ruling is a win for the ‘Free the nipple’ movement that has gained traction the last few years. Many celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Zoe Kravitz have supported the global movement that aims to promote female ownership of their bodies and removing the stigma of female nipples.
One of the largest arguments supporting the movement is that visible male nipples are acceptable yet female nipples are sexualised and deemed inappropriate for people to see.
This very argument was the first strike against the original Fort Collins ban on female public shirtlessness. The court has ruled that this ban encouraged “negative stereotypes depicting women’s breasts, but not men’s breasts, as sex objects.”
The court also provided evidence against Fort Collin’s argument that this ruling would lead to women “parading in front of elementary schools or swimming topless in the public pool.” The Court showed that in nearby cities Denver and Boulder, Colorado, where it is legal for women to be shirtless in public, no such case of public parading has occurred.
“We made a huge impact way beyond Fort Collins, and we were just trying to start a conversation,” says Brit Hoagland, one of the plaintiffs in the original lawsuit. “And that conversation reached to so many more people. It’s a miraculous achievement I didn’t think I would see in my lifetime let alone so soon.”
“Any law that says, ‘Women are prohibited from…’ is unconstitutional and really just intolerable in a society that should treat women as equal to men,” Hogland’s attorney, Andy McNulty, told KGUN-TV.