Free the Nipple movement comes to Hampton Beach

1,000 people plan to go topless this weekend, and New Hampshire officials have mixed feelings

–Pamela Wright

Kia Sinclair plans to take her top off this weekend, for a cause. Free The Nipple, a worldwide movement seeking to eliminate the double standard in censoring female breasts, is making its way to New Hampshire’s Hampton Beach on Sunday, International Go Topless Day.

Sinclair, a 23-year-old Danbury mom, is helping make it happen.

Free the Nipple has made crazy strides over the past year, gaining attention thanks to filmmaker Lina Esco’s movie Free the Nipple and lots of sympathetic celebrities. Nipple-exposing protests have taken Rhianna off Instagram. (Same goes for Miley. And Chelsea. And Madonna, Cara, and Chrissy.) Free the Nipple is not just about advocating public toplessness, but demanding an equal playing field.

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According to the event’s Facebook page, more than 1,100 men and women are planning to attend a Free the Nipple topless gathering on Hampton Beach. The reason for the location? New Hampshire state law prohibits exposed genitals, but not women’s breasts.

“It’s a really popular destination,’’ Sinclair said. “We could reach the majority of New England with that place. Once we found out it was actually legal there, it was perfect.’’

The event isn’t aiming for spectacle. No marches or protests are planned. According to the Facebook page: “Our goal is to just be normal about it. We want to show everyone that the breast and nipple can be seen without all hell breaking loose, traumatizing kids, giving old men heart attacks, or causing the apocalypse.’’

Sinclair says censoring and sexualizing female breasts is hurting breast-feeding moms everywhere.

“I had my first son in 2013. I was breastfeeding, and on forums talking to breastfeeding mothers,’’ she said. “Many were shamed and told to leave places for breastfeeding in public. I’ve never had that happen to me, but I’ve been given dirty looks. I’m pretty modest. Even in a private atmosphere with family and friends, they would makes jokes or encourage me to use formula. There’s a loneliness thing, too.’’

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Backlash is inevitable with every trailblazing movement. John Kane, Hampton Beach Village District marketing director, told SeacoastOnline.com he’s “absolutely against’’ the Free the Nipple event at Hampton Beach because it’s a “family resort.’’ NH1.com reports that New Hampshire state Sen. Nancy Stiles is getting endless requests from the public asking to stop the Free the Nipple event.

But not all New Hampshire officials are quick to criticize.

“Our whole hope is that people respect each other’s experience,’’ said Amy Bassett, a spokeswoman for the Division of Parks and Recreation for the state of New Hampshire. “However they experience the beach that day, [we hope] they respect other people.’’ She also said Sunday will be “business as usual’’ for state officials.

Sinclair says it will also be business as usual for children.

“Kids don’t notice, it’s the adults,’’ Sinclair said. “If we can change the idea that nipples are 100 percent sexual, kids won’t think that. Breasts are made for babies and children, and there is a sense of irony there.’’

Besides, she said, if parents’ cover kids’ eyes, “they’re gonna try harder to look anyway.’’

Related gallery: 2015 Hampton Beach sand sculptures

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