After making international headlines and despite a major facebook mistake and bad weather, approximately two-dozen ladies persevered and came out to Hampton Beach today to stand against the social stigma associated with women being topless in public.
Free State Project early mover Jessica Wardell traveled all the way from Henniker to join the topless ladies and their male supporters today and had this to say about the event, “It was lots of fun, there were about 20-30 girls participating, and I didn’t receive any negative criticism. Mostly people were curious about what was going on, and everyone that I talked to seemed to support the idea- especially when I brought up breast feeding.”
The event has already received coverage from the Daily Mail, which focused on the dozens of topless equality events taking place internationally, Reuters, Boston.com, NECN, as well as in Manchester’s Union Leader. Seacoast newspaper “Fosters” was dismissive of the event in their article, calling it “a bust” (yuk, yuk) and claiming only a dozen women came out. How many actually attended? Wardell claims 20-30 ladies in her estimate, with 40-50 additional supporters, including topless males. While more than 1,300 had claimed they were attending on the facebook event, facebook event attendance estimates are almost never close to the actual turnout. Many will indicate they are attending on facebook simply to show support for the event.
The ladies who set up the Hampton event, Kia Sinclair and Heidi Lilley, deserve a lot of credit for doing a great job promoting it and fielding media interviews in advance. Sadly, a major mistake was made early this morning when someone canceled the facebook event! The night prior, one of the admins posted a warning that they were going to cancel the facebook event this morning, but told people that did not mean the event was actually canceled. (Apparently, the FB event was canceled due to heavy trolling of the comments, however this could have been solved by only allowing admins to post.) Of course, only a fraction of the event attendees saw that post, so when the event was cancelled, EVERYONE on the event received a notice this morning from facebook saying the event was canceled with no explanation. This, in addition to the cold, rainy weather was likely a major contributing factor to the turnout. Two dozen topless ladies in bad weather actually seems really good, all things considered!
Organizer Kia Sinclair agreed, saying in a Free Keene-exclusive interview, “I am really happy about the turnout despite the weather. There were actually quite a few topless women around the beach at different times throughout the day. Because of the rain, a lot of women took shelter at the seashell stage. I will say that it was slightly intimidating being stared at and photographed by so many people. Its actually silly that just us being topless made so many people want to take pictures. If the weather was better I don’t think it would have been quite like that. But either way there were a lot of supporters despite the rain.”
Of course, all the mainstream media articles have been showing censored photos, or the ladies shot from behind, because the media are part of the problem. The social stigma against showing women topless runs deep, and mainstream media certainly won’t cross that taboo. Free Keene is not beholden to those rules. Share this article on social media at your own risk – you may get reported and banned for doing so. UPDATE: Facebook has targeted this article for censorship, so if you want to share it there, goto this link and hit “share” on it. That will share a version with a censored pic that uses Graham’s breasts to cover Jessica’s.
Congratulations and thank you to the ladies who went out today despite the weather. Stay tuned to Free Keene for the latest on topless equality. You can also join the “Free the Nipple” group for NH on facebook here.
Expected next is an as-yet-unscheduled civil disobedience event in Laconia where the city has illegally outlawed female toplessness.
Photo credits in order of appearance: Ashley Stoddard, Miranda Stoddard, Andrew Wardell