Chelsea Covington credit: theindependent

Chelsea Covington
credit: theindependent

Here at SMM we–and by “we,” I mean me–are always on the lookout for interesting stories. We are very aware of political and social trends, such as women’s issues.  Women’s issues are getting substantial play during this election season. I am aware of this. Some women refer to their breasts as “the girls.” I am aware of this– and them. I am very much supportive of women, and their girls, girls in all shapes and sizes and colors and origins. In fact, on many occasions, I have supported girls by hand, for extended periods. It was exhausting, but that’s the kind of public service oriented sort I am.

It’s only proper for a politically correct sort like me, who is always on the lookout not only for the girls, but for opportunities to check my white, male, non-girls privilege, to do what I can to be as supportive as I can. I just have one question, however: why is it I’m never present for such social protests? 

She makes me smile too.

She makes me smile too.

A 27-year-old Maryland woman is seeking to normalize naked breasts by spending time bare chested in public.

Chelsea Covington has spent the last three years channeling the ‘topfreedom‘ movement and says: ‘Walking bare-chested is still a powerful act for a woman, especially when done quietly, confidently and peacefully.’

Her blog, Breasts Are Healthy, documents her journey as she spends time in states where it is legal for her to be bare chested, such as Washington DC, Pennsylvania, New York and New Hampshire.

Who is so cold-hearted as to be unable to appreciate her quite, confident and peaceful bare chest? This is an issue close to my heart, about which I have written before. I can state without reservation that I support Ms. Covington’s breasts, as I’m sure she does, when she’s not bare-chested, as she seems to be much of the time.  It appears she is not, by any means alone as this photo of the daughter of action star Bruce Willis, demonstrated during a NYC stroll in 2014:

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Ms. Covington continues:

In a blog post, Covington writes: ‘I have never been arrested or touched inappropriately, and up until I started my blog and posted my own pictures, I had never seen a single photograph of me bare-chested on the internet.’

She has posted her experiences of what she says should not be seen as a subversive act.

Photos from her blog show her going about her ‘normal life’, enjoying a picnic in the park with her friends, riding her bike, relaxing on the beach and walking through cities.

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She has also recorded several videos, such as her cycling around Washington DC bare breasted.

The idea is not to make herself stand out and she says the vast majority of passers by either ignore her or react positively.

Covington says she will go bare chested – she prefers this gender-neutral term to ‘topless’ – simply when she feels like it, and explained to The Independent: ‘Personal comfort is my guide. If I wish to do so, I do.

‘I prefer the physical comfort bare-chestedness gives me, but also the feeling of freedom.’

She says she wasn’t always this comfortable with her body and that women have so many voices telling them they are ‘ugly, lacking, shameful’ and that her work tries to silence them.

‘Most days I’m successful,’ she says.

Well, bless Ms. Covington’s heart–and her breasts.

Covington writes: ‘My opinion on the value of celebrity bare-chestedness is that it depends, but in the balance, I think celebrities “freeing the nipple” or otherwise going bare-chested or even flashing or having not-so-accidental “wardrobe malfunctions”, though usually motivated by career furthering and not social evolution, does ultimately help people normalize to the sight of the female nipple.’

But also counters: ‘On the other hand, posing provocatively with bared nipples creates a sexual association which makes it harder to disconnect the female nipple as a sexual object.’

Beyond, other women’s reasons for going bare chested, Covington says that she doesn’t want to challenge people: ‘I want people to have whatever reaction they’re going to have without feeling like I’m judging them.

‘It’s me taking ownership of my own body and that is really powerful.’

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Powerful it is. Covington is apparently not a part of the “free the nipple” movement, as The Independent explains: 

This is evidenced by the #Freethenipple movement, which continues to gain traction because its primary goal has still not been realised. Society’s sexualisation of women’s breasts and, as a result, the rush to censor them is an issue that caught international attention when even new mothers found their breastfeeding pictures being removed from Instagram or their accounts suspended. Pictures of breastfeeding are now permitted but, in 2016, female nipples on the site are still forbidden. The same rules do not apply to bare-chested men on the network.

Covington noted that most people are accepting of her breasts. I certainly am:

The vast majority of passersby either ignore me or react positively. That’s the goal, to normalise the sight of female bare-chestedness until it becomes nothing extraordinary at all. But walking bare-chested is still a powerful act for a woman, especially when done quietly, confidently and peacefully. I never yell or protest or carry signs. Anger is fear. I’m not trying to scare people. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’m trying to get people to stop being afraid of the female breast and of the female body in general.

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Good for Chelsea Covington and those women–and their girls–like her. I wish them all good fortune and bouncy happiness. And gentle readers, rest assured we here at SMM will continue to work to free enslaved and oppressed nipples everywhere–unless they like that sort of thing, of course. Power to the girls!

I’ll continue to report on related developments. It’s a public service, and a vital woman’s issue, you know.

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