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Once in awhile, when one is in a room trying to be casual as hell and kick it, someone brings up a topic that inevitably makes everyone’s eyes shift and mood want not to kick it.

Nudity is one such topic. Why? Because it’s taboo.

Showing off one’s bod and skin is just another one of those things rooted in misogyny and oppression, which aim to subjugate those less fortunate in history (e.g. women); kind of like monogamy or, one may argue, marriage.

What all I’ve just mentioned have in common is they can all act as a form of expression. The sad-but-true issue, however, rests in the fact that for as long as we’ve been recording modern history, forms of expression have been shut down, (usually for superfluous reasons).

Nonetheless, we now live in a modern America where anything is possible. Regardless of our current political, economic, or what-have-you situation, we live in a time where expression is encouraged!

It’s a time to say to all the haters: Nudity is a form of empowerment and expression, and I will do it if I want.

Luckily, like all powerful changes, there’s a movement of body-empowerment happening here in the US, in which prominent figures of the nudity movement are sticking up for what they believe is right — namely two, from New York City and San Francisco respectively.

New York: Pearl Perri (formerly Pearl Reich), ex-Orthodox Jewish activist

Pearl is an ex-orthodox Jew — like myself — who left the community she was born into and became an activist in the nudity movement. After some tragic events in her life, she made the brave choice of sticking up for herself when no one else would — in New York, New York, where it’s now legal to walk topless, I might add. She founded the PearlPerri Jewelry & Accessories shop and movement. I say movement because she uses her shop and influence as a businesswoman to speak on behalf of women and men everywhere by using her naked body. In her words, “I promote the message of embracing your naked skin for the satisfaction of no one else but yourself,” a powerful sentiment much needed. Pearl is a powerful woman. I dare you to look at her pictures without feeling moved in some way.

Clear across the coast, in the lovely city of San Francisco, we have another activist using her body for the greater good.

San Francisco: Gypsy Taub (formerly Oxane Taub), a former Hungarian exotic dancer

Gypsy learned that the naked body is a tool for expression in a strip club, where she worked after emigrating from Moscow at 19 years old. Years later, she wound up in San Francisco, a city notoriously progressive in its policies and sexual acceptance. There, after major projects such as shooting amateur porn with couples, she made her place to the forefront of the fight against nudity in 2012. With the city’s gentrification, the downtown area was being “cleaned up,” and nudity became officially illegal. But Gypsy and her community would not allow it. She spearheaded a powerful movement to fight against the San Franciscan government by saying and showing “my naked body is ok.” The fight still has its repercussions today.

While forms of oppression have been around forever, so have our beautiful bodies. Using them as expression is a way of fighting if Pearl and Gypsy have taught me anything.

PS: Free the Nipple, keep up the good fight!