Topless activists parade through New York

People attend the 10th annual GoTopless Day Parade in New York.
People attend the 10th annual GoTopless Day Parade in New York.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Activists paraded shirtless through the streets of New York on Saturday (Aug 26), flashing their chests to celebrate the 10th annual GoTopless Day Parade.

Walking to the beat of drums in a carnival-style atmosphere, dozens of men and women embarked on 1.6km march from Columbus Circle to Bryant Park for the event, which this year falls on Women's Equality Day.

Participants of all shapes and sizes held up placards proclaiming "Equal Topless Rights For All" and "War Is Obscene Not My Nipples, Meditate 4 Peace Topless."

"I wouldn't miss this for the world," said Rebecca Barwick, 35, who travelled up from Virginia and works in the federal government.

"It's important to send a message. These are our bodies. They should not be policed any other way than men's. Men walk around like this all the time, so why is it such a big deal?"

Many inked "Go Topless" across their chests and wore hair bands with breasts popping up from the scalp on springs. One woman wore a blue Wonder Woman cape, and a couple of men wore bras.

Heavily out-numbered by spectators, the march was organised by US-based rights group GoTopless, which has spent 10 years campaigning for women to be able to go shirtless.

It is already legal for women to bare their breasts in public in New York, America's fourth most populous state.

Parallel events were scheduled in other US cities, which this year fell on the 97th anniversary of Women's Equality Day, when American women were given the vote.