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These clothing-averse cousins say that their free-wheeling movement is about to take off

Topless roller-blading: The next big thing?

Toptional: Photographer Kava Gorna and topless roller-blader Rachel Yaeger get meta in front of a picture one took of the other. They hope that shirtless skating will inspire a fourth wave of feminism.
The Brooklyn Paper
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Bra-averse female rollerbladers need our support.

A pair of women have spent the past seven months trying to dash the stigma surrounding their two favorite things, toplessness and rollerblading, by aggregating images of ladies in-line skating, sans shirts, and posting the results online, tan lines and all.

“It’s empowering and feminist and takes what could be a joke and makes it real,” said Rachel Yaeger, co-owner of Williamsburg’s Human Gallery.

Yaeger and her cousin, Elizabeth Siematkowski, say that despite the 1990s connotations of the single-track skates and the 19th-century prudishness surrounding the public display of breasts, their project is nothing if not cool.

It all started in April, when the pair were commiserating about how both activities are socially unacceptable in certain circles and decided to make every day a topless rollerblade-in. They started Twitter and Instagram accounts the very next day to spread the gospel of nudity and locomotion by sharing their favorite free-wheeling pics, and, soon thereafter, they launched a website called Topless Blading.

Within days, their goofy, anti-prudery web presence had thousands of fans, because who can resist admiring those who are not afraid to let it all hang out? But the adulation was not enough for Siematkowski, who, on a few sunny mornings this summer, opted to put her derring-do to the test by strapping on her skates, shedding her shirt, and taking a spin over the Williamsburg Bridge.

“At first I was like ‘Oh my God, is this really happening?’ but then it felt natural and I was totally comfortable with it,” said Siematkowski.

Surprisingly, very few of the hundreds-if-not-thousands of passersby she encountered seemed to notice.

“One girl gave me a high-five, but other than that, I got surprisingly few reactions,” she said.

Since the campaign began, Siematkowski said she has been shocked to discover that eight out of every 10 women she talks to do not know that it is their right to go topless in public in New York state.

The pair say they want to get as many women as possible comfortable with the concept.

“If you are a confident woman and you are proud of what you do, being topless is not a big deal,” said Yaeger.

And when it gets warm again, the two plan to host top-optional skates around Brooklyn.

“Our goal is to get a massive crew of topless bladers rolling through the streets,” said Siematkowski. “Of all the messages women get about their bodies these days, this one is about fun and freedom.”

Now that the weather is a bit nippy, the pair have taken the campaign indoors. Last Thursday, Human Gallery hosted Topless, which featured photos of Yaeger, Siematkowski, and two other women navigating Brooklyn au naturel. This time around, the display turned heads.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
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Reasonable discourse

Beverly from Park Slope says:
How do you keep your boobs dry when it rains?
Nov. 20, 2013, 6 am
Jay from Nyc says:
And you thought skined knees and elbows were painful
Nov. 20, 2013, 7:16 am
o3 from bk says:
i support their rights and the rights of parents to NOT have their kids...ah, exposed to nudity in the public commons.
Nov. 20, 2013, 8:13 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
LookatmeLookatmeLookatmeLookatmeLookatmeLookatmeLookatmeLookatme!
Nov. 20, 2013, 8:45 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
But it's so cold! I hope they at least wear a scarf in the winter.
Nov. 20, 2013, 11:07 am
Geno from Greenpoint says:
its a slow day for news at the BP...
Nov. 20, 2013, 11:49 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Pardon me, but why are they taking their tops of, and not the bottoms as well? I suspect that this means they are only "half" confident and only "half" proud of what they do? Well, I'm sorry, but this just won't do.
Nov. 20, 2013, 12:09 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
I suggest they take this to Crown Heights on Saturday Morning, and Atlantic Avenue on Friday afternoon.
Nov. 20, 2013, 12:16 pm
Bob Oldheard from Boneville says:
This is a load of bs. I checked out their instrawhatever and tumblrville and there were no topless shots. Just a lot of yuppie which chicks riding around on skates. What's topless about that? Lame.
Nov. 20, 2013, 12:23 pm
Pietro from park Slope says:

Wonderful idea.
You gotta love todays Brooklyn.
From black- veiled
to breast- baring - we got it all!
Nov. 20, 2013, 1:04 pm
Frank from East Williamsburg says:
This the Brooklyn bound L train.. next stop RAPEBURG!
Nov. 20, 2013, 1:44 pm
Keoni from Honolulu says:
Spread your cause in Honolulu in the winter. Come on down!
Nov. 20, 2013, 2:14 pm
BrooklynGersh from WT says:
I salute the Brooklyn Paper for exposing its readers to this very important topic. I always look to www.brooklynpaper.com to keep abreast of the latest information in my neighborhood. That said, I agree with the disappointed Bob Oldheard. When I went to the website and the other links, all I saw were the kind of pictures I can see on a movie poster or in an American Apparel ad. What is titilation coming to when blatant objectification can't compete with what my 10-year-old sees at the mall? A sad day.
Nov. 20, 2013, 3:23 pm
worried mom from Long Island City says:
This does NOT sound safe and not exactly a ladylike behavior. Education of safety and manner is needed these days!
Nov. 20, 2013, 5:42 pm
Jay from Bay Ridge says:
Oh no... This will make their feminine goodies cheap...
Nov. 21, 2013, 12:58 am
Fofoofo from go back to where you came from says:
such a nothing story. wow.
Nov. 21, 2013, 8:26 am
Homey from Crooklyn says:
The Hasidim will throw rocks at them.
Nov. 21, 2013, 9:09 am
Moses Kestenbaum ODA from Williamsburg says:
kava Gorna would not bare ass because hers looks like a tractor trailer
Nov. 21, 2013, 8:44 pm
JLNYC from Boerum Hill says:
Do they give lessons? I would love to learn how to blade - and if I dont wind up learning, at the very least I will have had great fun failing!
Nov. 23, 2013, 12:59 pm
DONCOX from Williamsburg says:
Ok i get it feminism whatever, but ride around with your breasts hanging out at your own risk. There are alot of sexual deviants in Brooklyn who would love to run into a woman with her breasts hanging out. Rape victims will soar to new heights. Be a feminist but in a safe neighborhood please.
Nov. 23, 2013, 5:46 pm
y from Hell's Kitchen says:
This is not feminist.
It is patriarchal and misogynist.
Anything that keeps women in a culture of objectification is anti-woman.
Nov. 26, 2013, 3:55 pm
Bklyn guy from Bklyn heights says:
Lost and needy, how sad................
Nov. 26, 2013, 7:27 pm
ohhwee from yo town says:
boobies!
Dec. 4, 2013, 12:57 am
Shirtless Dude from /r/topfreedom says:
http://freethoughtblogs.com/indelible/2013/12/12/reader-challenge-make-an-argument-for-banning-topless-women-in-public/
April 21, 2015, 2:59 am

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