Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I'm hearing differing terms, what is the difference between Topless, Top Free, and Bare-Chested?

A. All of these terms refer to the same behavior: that of choosing to go without any sort of chest covering or shirt.  Although they all have the same technical meaning, there are nuances of difference: Topless is usually used when men are paying to see feminine people topless, Top Free emphasizes a feminine persons choice as to whether they want to wear a top or not, Bare-Chested is frequently used for cisgender men, so using it for feminine people emphasizes equality.

A. Bare chested is the most literal description, few people will be confused about what that means. Top free is more symbolic, and emphasizes being freed from the bonds of nipple covers. Topless can be considered derogatory to some. Topless is heavily used in erotic material and implies that something is missing.

Q. But it's not the same for men and women: only women have breasts!

A. That's not actually a question. All people have the same breast anatomy, except for average size.  Both have muscles, fatty tissue, mammary glands, milk ducts and nipples.  Cisgender men can even lactate in some situations and are also at risk for breast cancer (the false idea that men do not have breasts has actually cost lives when men fail to seek treatment for a disease they did not know they could get).

Q. What am I suppose to tell my child when he asks about the bare chested woman on the beach?

A. If you agree that top freedom is OK, you can say “They are proud of their body and they are enjoying this beautiful day just like we are.”  Children - particularly young children - are often very mindful of fairness; telling them that it's fair for feminine people to be able to dress, or not, in the same way masculine people can is often all that it takes for them to completely accept the situation as normal.

B. If you don't agree you can say, “They are enjoying this beautiful day and even though I don't think they should expose those parts of their body in public, this country we live in guarantees their freedom to choose how to live. If they are making you uncomfortable, we can go look for shells in that direction.” This makes it clear that as a parent you do not agree and also teaches an important life lesson about tolerance.

Q. What about the teenagers?  What happens when my teenager see toplessness - They won't accept the same simple answers as a young child?

A. You can discuss this with teenagers as you would any other subject.

Q. I have a feminine teenager; what if they wants to go topless?

A. As with any clothing choice, you both will have to decide how to handle that.  The choice of whether or not to wear a top is no different from the choice of whether to wear a one-piece suit or a bikini.

Q. I'm uncomfortable with the idea of seeing my mother/grandmother/sister/daughter/other feminine relative bare chested?  Aren't you?

A. It's certainly possible for someone to feel uncomfortable in that situation, and it may depend upon how you were raised and what experiences you've had in life.  You should not feel obligated to hide your concern from your family, and should politely and respectfully discuss it with the family member in question; since you're members of the same family, you probably already have experience working out solutions to situations where everyone does not agree, like choosing movies or meals.  What you should not do is to assume that other families experience the same discomfort: to many, the fact that they are family members means that they are more comfortable about each other than around strangers, not less.

Q. Why don't you just go to a nude beach if you want to be topless?

A. Nipples aren't nudity.  We don't expect cisgender men to go to a nude beach if they want to be topless.  Many cisgender men who choose to be topless on the beach would not choose to visit a nude beach and be surrounded by exposed genitalia, and many feminine people who choose to be topless feel exactly the same way.

Q. But I don't want to expose my nipples. Why can't you people go after something that matters?

A. Please understand, the phrase “Free The Nipple” is a rallying cry, not a mission statement. Those taking up this issue are usually passionate about a large variety of injustices and see the unjust stigma attached to the female nipple are part of a larger whole.  While some may actually care only about this one freedom, most view this as part of an overall path towards equality, just like "votes for women" was once viewed as a minor issue, but has since led to greater equality.

Q. I want to feel the sun on my chest when I visit the beach, but I'm concerned that someone will take my picture. What can I do?

A. It can be intimidating to bare your chest in public the first time. There is no expectation of privacy in a public space. No one can stop someone from taking photos on a beach. You can ask yourself “would anonymous pictures really harm me?” It is our belief that nipples are not sexual so having pictures taken is not a big deal. We do ask that anyone that wants to take pictures should politely ask permission beforehand.

Q. I want to share my experiences in top freedom. Is it OK to take pictures with my bare-chested friends?

A. We encourage photographers to get permission from ALL subjects before taking pictures. Photos can be a powerful tool to help normalize nipples. If you and your friends are comfortable, sharing your experiences helps others learn.

Q. Isn't it true that any woman that wants to show off her nipples in public is just doing it for attention?

A. No. They are not. Is it true that any cisgender man that bares his chest in public does it for attention? No.
But for a minute lets say they are. Why does that bother you so much? That does not give anyone the right to harass or verbally assault them. Maybe those that make rude comments are only doing that for attention.

Source: Free The Nipple New Hampshire
Edited for gender inclusive language