Why I Went Topless…

What do you think about the ‘Topless Tour?’

We’ve all seen the pictures. Women posing topless in beautiful locations. Sometimes the women are alone. Sometimes the women are with a group of friends. We can’t tell if the topless women are are smiling, or laughing, or even crying when they pose for their photo because we can not see their faces.

To submit a photo to the Topless Tour one must follow one rule. It must be shot from the back.

Source: http://instagram.com/the_topless_tour
Source: http://instagram.com/the_topless_tour

According to this article, the Topless Tour was started by two British women, Lydia Buckler & Olivia Edginton and their Norwegian friend Ingvild Marstein Olsen.

Their instagram page,  says that their goal is to help women share their beauty with the world. 

Recently the Outdoor Women’s Alliance stood up to the Topless Tour. They aren’t so psyched about the message that the ‘Topless Tour’ is sending to the media or to young girls.

Here’s what they had to say on their facebook page. 

“We do not condemn anyone. We simply will not condone it. Comepletely up to the individual, of course. We don’t believe in glorifying it or doing it for show on a large scale, and won’t showcase it on our channels; those moments, if they are for personal empowerment, are then perfect for personal memories. There is a larger issue that rears up when it becomes glorified on a large scale that women are okay with stripping down. It crosses many issues, not only with media, but with sexualizing women, and with young girls following suit. “

Source: http://instagram.com/outdoorwomen/
Source: http://instagram.com/outdoorwomen/

You see, I’m torn. When I see photos of women baring their chests in beautiful places I don’t see female sexuality or exploitation. I see beauty. I see friendship. I see courage and most of the time I could care less what the women’s backs look like—I’m more focused on the scenery in the photos.

But at the same time I am a huge fan of the Outdoor Women’s Alliance. I appreciate what they are doing to portray real women in the outdoors and set a good example for young outdoor girls to follow.

So I decided to ‘Topless Tour’ to the test. I wanted to see if taking a topless photo would make me feel beautiful or empowered.

Or liberated and free.

A few days ago after a group hike with a few of my friends and their kids I drove to a secluded spot in the woods. I hiked in a little off the trail, set my camera up on a log. Distracted my kids with a granola bar. Hit the timer button on my camera and started to run while ripping my coat, shirt and finally my bra off as I sunk into the snow.

I didn’t feel liberated or empowered.

Instead I felt cold. And silly and embarrassed. What was I thinking? I’ve spent plenty of time breastfeeding my kids on the side of the trails but taking a picture of my topless self just felt ridiculous.

When I put my shirt back on and headed back to my kids (who had watched the whole thing go down) my three year old said, “Mommy, why’d you take your shirt off?”

“I don’t know,” was my reply and it was the truth.

I thought about the photo as I drove home but it wasn’t until I downloaded it onto my computer while my kids napped that it really began to nag me.

As I looked at this photo of my naked back I began to pick it apart…bit by bit. My back of all places wasn’t perfect enough for me.

Why I went topless

Do you see my hair? It needs to be trimmed but I don’t have time to make an appointment. Patches of gray are infiltrating my dirty-dishwasher blond colored hair. I’m not even 40 yet. I don’t like my hair. I never have.

Do you see those arms? I used to have killer arm muscles. Now the only thing they are good for is picking my kids up off the floor when the start to whine. Or washing dishes. Or cleaning the bathroom. Or hauling groceries upstairs.

Do you see those shoulders? They aren’t very strong.  

Do you see my torso? Is that a muffin top? Yes, that is a muffin top. I swore I’d never have a muffin top. I need to workout more.

Do you see my backside? I’m carrying around an extra 5 pounds. I used to be so skinny, and athletic.

Who would have thought that one stupid picture of my naked back would cause me to have such an emotional reaction! I’m not an emotional girl here.

But as I thought a little bit more I realized that I pick pictures of myself apart like this even if I’m showered and wearing makeup and looking my best. I’m never quite…perfect.

As I kept looking at this picture of my back and judging myself harsher than I would judge any other woman I tried to turn my negative thoughts into something useful.

Do you see my hair? Those gray streaks mean that I’m just finally starting to reach my peak. My braid is long, I like that. I might not have brushed my hair this morning but damnit I did remember to brush my teeth!

Do you see those arms? Those are the arms that my children crave when they are sad and when they are happy. For my children those arms are a place of love and comfort.

Do you see those shoulders? Wait a second, I’m AM strong! I carry children up mountains almost every single day. Sometimes I carry two children plus our gear at once. This outdoor motherhood thing isn’t for the weak.

Do you see my backside? After almost 10 years of marriage my husband still thinks I’m sexy.

Do you see me? I AM beautiful!

Why I went Topless

If posing topless makes you feel beautiful and confident and loved do it! If posing fully clothed makes you feel beautiful and confident and loved do it! I would ask you to do this though, don’t point your back to the camera point your face to the camera because that’s where your true beauty is.

What I’m really trying to say is this…we need to stop picking ourselves apart. As women we need to start loving ourselves and each other more….full clothed or completely naked.  We need beauty. We need love.

No matter what you think of the ‘Topless Tour’ I hope you’ll agree with me when I say this one thing, “You, my friend are beautiful….now start to believe it.”

5 comments on “Why I Went Topless…

  1. Beautiful article. I found myself in the same standstill on the subject. <3 Keep flowing with the positivity, chica! So encouraging!!

  2. Rebecca, somehow I missed this post. I absolutely love it. I absolutely love your honesty. I absolutely love your humor. I, too, am torn when it comes to the Topless Tour and Outdoor Women Alliance and the topless photos. I see the value and message from both. At 51, I’ve come to terms with my changing body and its beauty and flaws. Though, I do fear the day ‘ old lady ass’ happens. I’d like to keep my cute butt a few more years. That said, I don’t think I’ll be taking any topless pics anytime soon. But all the power to those who choose to do so and those who choose to stand against.

  3. We at Outdoor Women’s Alliance never saw this post, Rebecca! Thank you for sharing, and for being so real with your thoughts and yourself, and than you, too, @michellecarnerlong:disqus . We love hearing the discussion continue in a respectful, thought-invoking way.

    To address one of the reasons why we don’t promote this type of activity in public spheres: We are an international organization, so for that reason, we realize that what we post has far-reaching affects, as might anyone’s post on a social media channel. Since Instagram doesn’t live in a bubble, our actions as women in North America go beyond our “liberated” culture and may affect the views of those living in countries without our freedoms of equality, especially when it comes to those countries where men view women as objects (think of the atrocities against women in Egypt: http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/03/opinion/burleigh-rapes-tahrir-square/). Until the world views women as equals, until the world — even North America — views women on equal standing for their abilities and not their aesthetics, until young women aren’t victimized by sex trafficking, we simply can’t promote these things on our channels.

    However, we never condemn anyone for taking their own view, but hope that they do so with a mind to the consequences. It is our aim to educate on the potential outcome of participating in these types of social media posts. We’ve seen the comments made on many of the accounts that aggregate these type of photos to publicize women doing this, and there are many that cause our hearts to drop — opposite of being seen as strong women, these photos are attracting the eyes of those with a mindset we are trying to quell, with comments calling them “sexy, hot, fine, etc.” often with unnecessary language surrounding it which we will not repeat here. We’ve even seen professional athletes disparaged on these accounts by the account followers (when featured fully clothed, mind you!) as “broads” — because those who subscribe to those accounts have been trained to see women as objects rather than athletes with skills.

    In contrast, because we (and other organizations like ours) always strive to present women for their abilities rather than their bodies, we’ve never had any of this type of language on our account.

    We hope this sheds a bit more light on our stance. We know each woman has to make her own choice and we fully support that.For all the above reasons, this is ours! 🙂

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