I don’t care what inspirational quotes on Instagram tell you: life is fucking hard. If you start to think too much about the rolling trash fire that is the world — terrorism, prejudice, disease, your utility bill in the winter — it can be hard to stay zen. Sometimes there is no choice but to let loose, and if your anything like me, that means taking off your bra now and again and straight chilling. Personally, I do that in the privacy of my own home, but more adventurous souls should know in which cities you’re allowed to be naked in public. Nothing says “damn the man, save the empire,” like rocking your glorious birthday suit in the middle of a city park. Seriously, nothing.
Public nudity is usually charged as “indecent exposure” in the United States. Womp, womp. Let’s just be clear, there is nothing indecent about naked bodies, and although there are many major problems in this world, it seems like rocking out with your anything out should be the least of our worries. That is not the case, though. Because America is so wrapped up in leftover Puritan and just downright prude values, public nudity is an actual issue.
Some states and cities have taken measures to draw the line between “acceptable nudity,” like a woman bearing her breast to feed her baby, and “bad” public nudity to “entice” sexual desire. When you throw in the sexualization of female bodies, it becomes all the more complicated. Here’s how to keep yourself from getting fined across the good ol’ U.S. of A.
New York City
It is now legal for women to walk around topless in New York City. Since bridge and tunnel dude bros from New Jersey can take off their shirt on a humid day, women can too now. You can’t walk around with your genitals bared, though, so take heed.
San Fran has a total ban on public nudity now, whereas in the past full on nakedness was a totally normal site for locals and tourists. There have been some totally buck-ass naked protests since the ban went down in 2014, but it doesn’t look like it’s being repealed anytime soon. Tread lightly.
In Chicago, you are “accountable” for “public indecency” if you knowingly are naked and anyone can see you. There are fines from $100-$500 for being naked, which has led some semantic-minded Chicagoans to wonder if that means they have to put up curtains.
In L.A., they take a more balanced approach. According to their penal code, some sexual motivation has to be tied into the public nudity that would make it “lewd,” but their laws do state that any pubic region is technically not for public display. Quite simply, they have bigger problems than your exposed vagina to deal with.
Get at it, Seattle. Being topless is totally legal (but you might want to mince words with arresting officers about your full on nakedness).
In Philly, it’s all about semantics. You can be naked, but you can’t be “lewd.” Of course, the difference is up to the cops to decide. If you really want to get naked in the city of brotherly love and not worry about a ticket, you can go on the annual Naked Bike Ride.
You know, Texas gets a bad rep, but they actually have no specific law on public nudity. So, you can’t get like, birth control very easily or use the right bathroom if you’re transgender, but you can free ball it on the street. Priorities, people.
Of course, in Miami you can go completely naked at all public beaches, which makes it the ultimate party town.
They have public nudity laws, but technically it only covers (get it?) genitals. So, feel free to show your favorite senator your tits.
Overall, it’s a tricky legal line to navigate, since most public nudity ordinances have little bits (sorry) about nakedness being OK until it “offends” or “arouses” onlookers. This is America — someone is always offended or aroused, so bare all, but bare it smartly to avoid steep fines.
Write by: Karen Fratti @karenfratti