"They're just boobs."

By Faith Brar
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Members of New York City's Topless Book Club have been baring their breasts in Central Park for the past six years. Recently, the group went viral after sharing a video about their mission: To prove that it's perfectly possible for women to show nudity in a nonsexual way-while reminding New Yorkers that toplessness is very legal in their city.

"I feel like from a very young age women are told to be quiet or modest about our bodies," club member Cheyenne Lutek says. "Society tells us to dress or act a certain way in order to be 'normal' or 'accepted,' and frankly I believe we can use our bodies any way that we see fit."

Cheyenne joined the club in 2013 after reading about it online. It instantly sparked her interest because of its progressiveness. "They accepted me with open arms, and I've met some of the greatest people through it," she says.

Rachel Rosen, on the other hand, was introduced to the idea in 2011 through a personal training client. "I thought it was a really amazing idea that I wanted to support," she told us. (Related: Find Out Why Hundreds of Women Are Sharing Photos of Themselves Doing Naked Yoga)

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Neither of the women had ever heard of anything like this before but fell in love with the group stood for. "It promotes the idea that we should be free to show up in whatever state of dress and undress in a pretty relaxed way and not be judged for it," Rachel says. "It also increases awareness that it's acceptable and actually desirable for women to be topless."

For Cheyenne, it was all about learning to be comfortable and confident in her own skin. "There just aren't many opportunities like this out there and it's definitely looked down upon," she says. "But we need to be in control of our bodies and our health-that's what this group is all about."

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The club currently has hundreds of active members, some who have created their own small groups around the world. Their goal is to get together once a month to read everything from Shakespeare to comic books while having intelligent conversations about women's rights and issues.

"Being part of the group has brought light to many problems around the world for women, like pay, access to education, health care-I didn't really know about some of these things before," Cheyenne says. "It's changed my all-around perception of what it means to be a woman in today's world." (Related: What I Learned About Myself from Trying Naked Yoga)

The group accepts anybody and everybody, as long as they are willing to leave all judgments behind. But onlookers don't always offer the same courtesy. "Occasionally, we get some negative comments and looks," Cheyenne says. "But together we're more powerful and we support each other, so people who have something negative to say usually just mind their own business."

Rachel likes to give these folks the benefit of the doubt. "I think they are more curious than anything else," she says. "Plenty of people come up and commend us for what we're trying to do for future generations."

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Over the years, both women have used the group to empower themselves and have learned to embrace their bodies in the process. "They're just boobs," Cheyenne says. "Being topless in public has taught me to be confident and in turn happier. Honestly, I feel like I've gone out and done things I would have never done before because of this." (Related: How Running a Naked 5K Helped Me Embrace My Cellulite and Stretch Marks)

Rachel loves that the group brings different types of women together and provides them with a safe space to just be themselves. "It's not the 'supermodel topless group,'" she says. "Women in the group come in all different shapes and sizes and learn that the body is a natural thing. It doesn't need to be sexualized. They learn that women can walk around without a top and it can just be an expression of who they are. It doesn't need to be anything more."

Comments (3)

Anonymous
May 9, 2018
The majority of people in the world would agree that nudity is inherently sexual. Yes, it's technically legal to go topless in NYC, but 99.999% of women don't do it. Why? Because their breasts are sexual to them, and they don't want to flash their boobs to the entire city. These topless book club women expect guys not to ogle when they get half naked in public and display their naked breasts? All heterosexual men love breasts and these women cannot dictate how men look at them. These young ladies are clearly exhibitionists! They have a blog with hundreds of topless and fully nude pictures. Why advertise like that if not for attention? These ladies posted an entire blog entry about their group masturbation experience. These ladies also posted another blog entry about how their two male friends used coconut oil to masturbate right in front of them, while at a hotel's rooftop pool, where anybody in the surrounding buildings could see. Yes, there are photos of these men jerking off at the pool with the topless bookclub ladies. I'm pretty sure public masturbation is illegal. Also illegal, is getting fully naked in Central Park, as the ladies have also done, and again, there are pictures of this. Taking your top off in public has NOTHING to do with women's empowerment. There are many women in positions of power, who don't have to resort to exhibitionism. I sometimes see comments on the Topless Coed blog stating how bare breasts in Europe are no big deal, they aren't sexualized there. Yes in many European countries toplessness is fairly common on the beach, but not on the streets. Also, these commenters are missing the point. Most people in the world view nudity as sexual, both Americans and Europeans view nudity as sexual. But, European countries, are more comfortable with sex and sexuality than America. So, they are more comfortable with nudity. When women go topless on the beaches, they do so to express their beauty, express their sexuality, and exercise their freedom to do so. Men look and stare at boobs all the time on the beaches of Italy and France, they are no different from American men. Europeans don't compartmentalize nudity and stress over it like Americans. The Topless Book club ladies want to de-sexualize breasts, which is impossible, because men are biologically hardwired to be sexually attracted to breasts, and overexposure to female nudity doesn't lead to it's de-sexualization. If that were the case, the human species would be extinct. Breasts will always be an erogenous zone for women, and stimulating the breasts produces oxytocin. By wanting to de-sexualize breasts, these ladies are missing the point. Boobs are very much sexual for European women and European men. Women go topless there to express their sexuality, not because their boobs are de-sexualized! Mothers and daughters go topless in front of male family members, and that's fine because family members are not sexually attracted to each other in the first place.
Anonymous
November 6, 2017
You shouldn't use the term "nudity" in reference to these ladies state of dress. They TOPLESS, not NUDE. If a man is shirtless, no one refers to him as being nude.
Anonymous
November 6, 2017
Nice article. Pity you undercut your progressive position by finding it necessary to obscure the women's breasts.