Celebrities like Rihanna, Kendall Jenner, and Miley Cyrus have come out on social media to support the “Free the Nipple” campaign, which aims to change the laws that make it a crime for a woman to expose her breasts in public. The campaign was started by actress Lina Esco, who has now directed and starred in a film of the same name that tells the story of the “Free the Nipple” movement’s growth.

FOX411: OK – why free the nipple? Why not whales or fracking?
Lina Esco: Actually, whales are one of my other causes and dolphins. This one was because my best friend’s was censored since she was five months old. She was kicked out of a church because her mom was breastfeeding her. I grew up Catholic. I grew up repressed, and kind of shy of my body, and being around her I wanted to shoot pictures and shoot videos of her because I was so inspired by how free she was, and then she started telling me if she went topless outside she would get arrested then that started getting me into researching the history of women’s rights all the way back to Susan B. Anthony in the late 1800s and because of her women were first allowed to vote in August of 1920. 

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FOX411: You point out that in 1992 it became legal in New York City for women to be topless, and yet police officers still arrest them. How can they do that?
Esco: I think a lot of cops are not educated on it. On this summer that past I was doing a story for The Daily Mail, and we went topless in Washington Square Park and the cops came over and told us to wear our tops because mothers were complaining. Even though it’s legal since 1992 cops need to be educated on this, and mothers would come up to me and say, 'You should be ashamed of yourself with what you’re doing. You shouldn’t be fighting for women’s rights topless.' And I said, 'Number one, I’m not fighting. I just want to have a dialogue. Number two, you have a two year old son here and you were just breastfeeding him a year and a half ago, and at what point did this nipple become so obscene to you?'

FOX411: What do you hope to achieve?
Esco: I hope that the conversation will get a little bit bigger. I hope that one day, you know, there will be a law creating equality between men and women under the federal government, and I hope that this will open people’s minds also showing how were still so Puritanical in our mentality and stuff like that. So, being topless does not equal de-nudity. There’s still so many laws against women’s bodies but barely any against men.

FOX411: Were you surprised by the outpouring of celebs?
Esco: A little bit. I think artists are a little more open-minded and progressive in that sense, so I wasn’t that surprised but Russell Simmons has been a big supporter. I think the more people that know about the real meaning behind 'Free the Nipple,' the name it’s funny. It’s engaging. It’s supposed to create some sort of, 'What is this?' And I think, you know, once you learn more about a little bit about what we’re doing, it’s not what you think it is. We’re not here promoting people going topless.

 

Fox News.com Reporter and FOX411 host Diana Falzone covers celebrity news and interviews some of today's top celebrities and newsmakers.  You can follow her on Twitter @dianafalzone.