Opinion: Thirty years after Gwen Jacob’s arrest for going topless, little has changed

The problem with this OPINION ARTICLE is that it drags other social issues into this opinion about being able to go topless in public. What does transgender children have to do with going topless in public? But read the article if you wish. I will post most of it here for everyone’s convenience.


Stéphane Deschênes is the owner of Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park and has taught a course about nudity at the University of Toronto. He has been hosting the The Naturist Living Show podcast since 2008.

Thirty years ago today, 19-year-old Gwen Jacob took off her shirt in the oppressive 33-degree heat in Guelph, Ont. The police were called and Ms. Jacob was arrested when she refused to cover up, even though there was a group of bare-chested men playing sports nearby. She was charged and convicted of committing an indecent act. On Dec. 9, 1996, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the 1991 ruling, thus giving all women in the province the right to be top-free.

Yet despite Ms. Jacob’s victory, little has changed in the three decades since. Women’s bodies are still objectified, and they are often expected to take responsibility for the reaction of others as a result of all types of exposure. The sight of a shirtless woman on a beach or anywhere is still an extreme rarity, societal norms being far more effective at controlling behaviour and attitudes than laws.

It could be argued, despite some significant advances in equality, that society’s attitudes toward women’s bodies have actually gotten worse. A half century ago it was common for prepubescent girls to wear the same bathing suit as boys. Today, some people are offended by that sight. Indeed, back in 2015, an eight-year-old girl at a public pool in Guelph was told she had to cover up her chest when she took off her shirt to take a dip with her family. Ironically, this sort of misguided attempt to protect children actually functions to sexualize their bodies.

More than ever, our bodies are being objectified, commodified and hypersexualized, and social media has strengthened the pressure to achieve an impossible ideal. Instead of celebrating diversity, we now have digital filters that attempt to make us all look the same. The effect of this airbrushed ideal is that men are now perceptibly suffering from body shame too, as evidenced by the relative rarity of shirtless men in public nowadays. Thirty years ago, men seemed to take off their shirts at every opportunity. It was that nonchalance that Ms. Jacob envied, and that which ultimately led her to defy societal norms. But now it appears neither gender is comfortable being bare-chested – hardly the equality that Ms. Jacob had in mind.

Social-media censorship rules have been amazingly effective at highlighting the absurdity of the way we view female breasts. Male nipples are okay on most platforms, but female nipples are not – except when breastfeeding, because we all agree that’s a good idea. And when portrayed in art – except what is art, and who defines it? And what about women with mastectomies; there is no nipple. Men with large breasts? Women with small breasts? Transgender people? Children whose gender is not obvious?

It’s no wonder that some people choose to shirk all off these arbitrary rules and have come to embrace naturism. Living completely free of clothing allows participants to finally accept themselves as they truly are.

The solution to dissatisfaction with one’s body is not fancy clothing to hide under or, worse, surgical intervention. The most effective solution is acceptance of the incredible body that nature has given us and the recognition that each of us is unique. Nudity in naturism is not the objective. It is the tool that leads us to acknowledge that insight. In 2020, social psychologist Keon West published results of a 51-participant trial that showed “naked activity can lead to improvements in body image” compared to when activities are completed fully clothed.

These results are not surprising to those of us who have studied this century-old movement. When we lose the clothing, we present our authentic selves without the attitudes and false confidence that are associated with the costumes that we use as shields. Our bodies exist for us and not for the visual pleasure or judgment of others. Thirty years ago, Ms. Jacob pushed to change that attitude. She set an important legal precedent and instigated a lot of conversation. But there is still a long way to go before we unburden ourselves of body shame and stop the beauty myth propaganda.

Danish TV show that pairs kids and naked adults slammed as depraved.

Danish TV show that pairs kids and naked adults slammed as depraved.

Yeah I have problem with this. I know it’s not actually pedophilia. But still…this is a lot much!

On one TV show, the truth is actually naked.

In Denmark, an award-winning television program called “Ultra Strips Down,” puts nude adults in front of school-age children.

The series allows its young participants, ages 11 to 13, to ask the grown-up volunteers whatever questions are on their minds in order to promote body positivity and combat body-shaming, according to the New York Times.

Despite Denmark’s relatively permissive attitude towards nudity and its well-intentioned mission, the show, now in its second season on a channel called DR Ultra, has sparked backlash. One politician even said it is “depraving our children.”

A recent episode, which focused on skin and hair, placed students from Copenhagen’s Orestad School in the company of five buck-naked adults. The series’ creators want to challenge the idea that there are perfect body types.

As a naturist a part of me is confused as to why they would even do this. But as a Uncle I am outraged. I think this is just wrong.

Patrick review – wry, existential nudist comedy


This show is in Belgum and it’s about the existential crisis of a man who comes to inherit the naturist retreat from his father, but is obsessed with finding a lost hammer. What makes the show so interesting is that there is almost nothing about the nudity in the show, just the crisis the main character faces.

Where is Public Nudity legal in America?

So i am following a woman on Twitter who is pushing to get rid of the anti-topless laws in her state. She had made some claims earlier that a number of states had gone pro-topless. I wasn’t sure if it was true, so i decided to look and see. So i goggled a search and this is what i found.


Seattle, WA

Seattle actually allows for people to be nude anywhere anytime as long as you’re not making anyone uncomfortable. Many people go to relax at beaches or parks without the stress of clothing, and have been doing so since the 1990s when the case of Seattle v. Johnson made it legal.


Most places in Oregon are pretty lenient when it comes to nudity, as it turns out. There are plenty of nude spas and clubs you can go to (when it’s safe to go places again after the COVID-19 pandemic, of course). There are even lots of hot springs where you can enjoy unwinding totally au naturale. 

Austin, TX

Surprisingly, Austin is one of the most topless-friendly cities in the United States, where there are no laws specifically forbidding public nudity. In fact, Hippie Hollow is Texas’ government-maintained clothing-optional park, which covers 100 acres on Lake Travis’s shoreline and is a great place to cool off in the nude.

New York, NY

New York is one of the only places where anyone of any gender can go topless publicly without it being considered indecent exposure. However, it’s still not legal to bare your genitals, so no summer streaking across Rockaway Beach unless you want a hefty fine.

Philadelphia, PA

Philly technically allows you to be naked as long as you’re not being “lewd.” In fact, there’s usually an Annual Naked Bike Ride, which has also been seen in other places like Los Angeles. Still, people usually cover their genitals.


It’s actually completely legal to go out in the nude for some sun at many beaches in Florida, where at places like Miami’s Haulover Beach it’s clothing optional. Feel free to bare it all at Playalinda, Blind Creek Beach, or even South Beach (although, watch out for camera phones). Perhaps the only exception (though there is no legal precedent) is Bunche Beach Preserve in San Carlos Bay of Fort Myers, which definitely does not want anyone to take their clothes off.


Now this article is from 2015 but I’ve confirmed that the list is still correct.

Now as I have said before I still have some dislike of the topless movement. Because i believe it is a part of the political feminist movement and really has nothing to do with naturism. But if people decide to allow women to go topless in their city or state then i have no problems with such a move. To be honest though even if the laws were to change nationwide i doubt many women would suddenly start going topless.

Naked protesters in upstate NY wear ‘spit hoods’ in solidarity with Daniel Prude


I am not taking a stance on the whole BLM thing with this post. I am merely posting some Naked News in the case of this blog post.