Naked Women (Nearly): Fashion at Governors Ball Frees the Nipple and Butt Cheeks, Because Feminism

Women at Governors Ball Music Festival show their support for feminist movements by freeing the nipple
Festival-goers during the 2017 Governors Ball Music Festival on Randall's Island in New York City on June 3. Some of the women at the music event chatted with Newsweek about why festivals are the perfect setting for freeing the nipple and supporting feminist movements. Noam Galai/Getty

While many boobs and butts were on full display at the 2017 Governors Ball Music Festival, a good number of the women rocking super short shorts with lace bralettes and pasties—or even mesh shirts with no bras at all—weren’t dressed so scantily in an effort to stand out or follow festival style trends. They were baring their boobs, nipples and butt cheeks to show their support for feminist movements like Free the Nipple and other social causes aimed at gender and body equality.

It’s not all that uncommon to see ladies wearing barely-there clothing at music festivals (back during the Woodstock era in the 1960s, women would often expose their breasts), but the women among the more than 150,000 people attending the three-day Governors Ball festival that kicked off Friday on New York City’s Randall’s Island seemed to be more naked than usual.

Granted, while lace bralettes and Daisy Dukes are having a major fashion moment right now, for a lot of the women at Governors Ball—62 percent of attendees are women, according to the festival’s creators Founders Entertainment—the choice to wear extra-revealing clothing was just another effort to promote women’s rights and break down societal double standards toward women’s bodies: particularly the idea that men get to showcase their bodies and dress however they want while women can’t.

“Quite frankly, my whole thing with nipples is that everybody has them. So why it’s such a big deal for females to expose them is beyond me. Nonetheless, I’m all for freeing the nipple at festivals. They’re here to nourish babies one day, if I should choose. If not they’re just there and they look good,” Janyssa Miller, a 21-year-old from Long Island, told Newsweek at the festival Saturday.

Since the 1960s, women have been using their bras and their breasts to advocate for gender equality and women’s rights. The bra-burning demonstration at the 1969 Miss America protest in New York City launched one of the most iconic and effective movements toward female equality, power and inclusion. But even some 48 years later, women in America are still finding unique ways to advocate for their rights and overcome the sexualization of their bodies.

In more recent times, women have participated in feminist actions like Free the Nipple, a gender equality movement that launched in 2012 following the filming of Lina Esco’s 2014-released documentary of the same name. And now, women are using opportunities of all kinds to campaign for the causes that matter most to them, including music festivals like Governors Ball.

Check out what a few festival-goers had to say about women's decisions to wear less and free the nipple at the 2017 Governors Ball Music Festival below:

Claire (R) explains why advocating to free the nipple is important Claire, right, explains the decision behind her metallic bra ensemble: I just think it’s time for a change, for a movement. And that’s why advocating to free the nipple is so important. This teaches equality to young girls and to be comfortable with their bodies. It’s not about sexualizing it. It’s more about the comfort and confidence that comes between that. Newsweek

Maya Palmer (R) and Lauren Roarty on the Free the Nipple movement Maya Palmer and Lauren Roarty share why festivals are the perfect setting to showcase feminist pride. Palmer: Just like wearing what makes you feel good and what you think is trendy and cute is good. I feel like more so at festivals we don’t really care if any one’s like, ‘Oh that’s a bad outfit,’ or, ’Oh that’s slutty.’ I just feel like it doesn’t matter as much. It’s weird because we saw boys on the train [on the way here] who had their shirts cut and we could see their nipples. And I was like, ‘Oh, but if a girl wore that it would be all bad.” Roarty: Everyone should be able to wear what they want and be able to embrace who they are. It shouldn’t matter. However, you look you should wear what you want, and be yourself. Why is a guy’s nipple so less scandalous than a woman’s? I don’t understand. It’s just like we have a boob behind it, but it doesn’t really make a difference. It’s still a nipple at the end of the day. Newsweek

Haylee Bender (R) and Meredith Ovian (L) explain why they wore pasties to Governors Ball Haylee Bender, right, and Meredith Ovian explain why they wore pasties to Governors Ball. Bender: We wanted to ball out. We wanted to match all weekend, and we have never really done the pasties thing before. If it were more socially acceptable, I’m pretty sure we’d free-nip it, but since it’s not we went with the pasties. Ovian: I can say that 40 percent of the girls here are actually wearing bras, like real bras. Everyone’s wearing bralettes or like no bras. What’s the surprise? I have boobs. You know I have boobs. Whether or not they’re in a bra or if they’re not in a bra, they’re still the same. Newsweek

Katherine (L), Tess Lipsky (M) and Anna Duggan (R) on why women's clothing shouldn't be judge Katherine, left, Tess Lipsky and Anna Duggan share their thoughts on women showing their bodies at festivals. Kathernie: Why do men get to take their shirts off and we can’t? Oh, I hate that. It makes me so mad we can’t even walk around without a sports bra on, and I kinda just think that’s just discrimination against women. Lipsky: I think it’s important that people get out there and support women. But I think that in order to do that more women need to start supporting other women, and we can’t judge each other for supporting the feminist movement and we can’t judge each other’s clothes. And that’s where it starts. Duggan: I think that women should be able to do and wear whatever they want. I think that some people are kind of conservative and they aren’t comfortable being around that. But I don’t think that people should be judged, because a body is a body. People should be able to wear what they want and show off their bodies in ways that they want to. Newsweek

Regina Cruz on why women shouldn't be judged for wearing less Regina Cruz on wearing less at festivals: I think it makes it easier to wear what you want [when you’re at a festival]. You can get away with it a lot easier. But I think [choice of dress] should be equal. We can breastfeed in public. Breast are natural. I think people’s mentality...has to change. The whole sexualization of how men feel about women,I think that whole mentality needs to change. Newsweek

Janyssa Miller Janyssa Miller shares her thoughts on how women are judged for their clothing: Unfortunately, we live in a society where it’s like a man’s world. I think the real issue behind anyone having to say something about what a woman wears is that women’s bodies are sexualized. So what a man sees when they see a woman’s nipples, instead of it being like just a part of your body, it’s something that’s supposed to turn them on and please them. And if that’s not what its doing, then that’s an issue. It makes no sense. Newsweek