I’m not gonna lie: when I wrote up that item about Topless Bowery Lady a few weeks ago, I got a bit jealous. To be able to walk around New York City all careless and fancy free like that, breasts unfettered, the cool breeze rushing across your chest…it all seemed so wonderful, yet unattainable. I would never have the gall to do that, I thought. Social conventions being what they are, there’s no way I could possibly carry that off without attracting an incredible amount of unwanted attention, making people mad, scarring children for life, potentially getting harassed by the cops, etc. Why, oh why, can’t I just air my tits out like it ain’t no thang? STUPID AMERICA.
And then I was like, well, why the hell not? What’s the point of having toplessness be legal in New York City if you can’t taste of its sweet nectars? Social mores don’t just change overnight; someone has to go first and make it look like fun, and then, with any luck, the rest will follow, and someday it becomes normal, right? In the name of being the change I want to see (as well as anecdotal sociology), I decided to swallow my fears and hang out topless in Central Park Sunday afternoon.
I figured I should start out with the relatively normal activity of topless sunbathing and work my way up to more brazen endeavors. I was kind of nervous about taking my shirt off initially, but it turned out to be like ripping off a band-aid; once I’d done it without anything bad happening, I relaxed. I reclined. I read my book. I chatted with Jennifer. Nobody was even looking at me! At one point I thought a guy was giving me the thumbs up, but it turned out it was directed at a baby. The sun and air felt nice on my skin. I would tentatively say from this experience that it’s possible to toplessly sunbathe in the park without causing a commotion.
Next, it was time to get up and walk around. I instinctively clutched my book to my chest at first, but I stopped myself. Naked time wasn’t over yet. I donned a hat and sunglasses so as to feel less exposed. A little bit dehydrated from lying in the sun, I bought a bottle of water and a popsicle. The concession stand guy didn’t bat an eyelash at me. He’s probably seen weirder.
(Visit the next page, where things start to get NSFW…)