A woman wants the right to be topless on the beaches of Ocean City, Maryland this summer and is ready to fight for it.
The 29-year-old, who uses the pseudonym Chelsea Covington, feels that the state constitution allows her the right to bare her chest on the beach, just like it does for men. She has been topless on the beaches of her home state around 30 times since asking police in the beach town about the issue last summer.
She told a local news outlet that in those instances, she never had any problem with sexual harassment.
"I have been sexually assaulted, physically grabbed and groped and things just like almost every woman has while being fully clothed," Chelsea said. "And it has never happened when I've been bare-chested."
But her bare-chested days are being threatened. Early this month the town debuted a new ordinance that made it clear that it would be against the law for a woman to go topless on the popular beach. Chelsea is now weighing her legal options against the city, contemplating moving forward with a lawsuit that would protect her right to appear topless on the sand.
She has retained a national civil rights attorney, Devon Jacob, who believes women have the right to appear topless in public. “Ms. Covington and I intend to end discrimination against females in Ocean City,” he told the outlet.
Chelsea, who does not identify as an exhibitionist, has come to realize that the issue of toplessness has a deep meaning for her.
“It’s not just about who can take a shirt off and who can’t. It’s about whether women are seen as equal human beings,” she says. “My thing has been normalization — doing normal things, just like a man would.”