Kit Steinkellner
July 01, 2014 1:02 pm

Topless travel photos are all over Instagram these days, but it’s not what you think. As part of a social media protest, women are sharing shirtless shots taken from around the world to prove that they’ve got just as much of a right to bare their torsos as men. It’s a body positive movement that got us thinking just how far we’ve come from the days when toplessness was the terrain of Girls Gone Wild.

In the late ’90s and early ’00s, Joe Francis’s adult entertainment company sent camera crews to party locations to film (alleged) college-aged women going topless, and then sold those videos for a fortune. Yes, Girls Gone Wild featured a lot of topless girls, but the context was completely different than it is compared to today’s topless movement, and context DOES matter.

The times they are-a-changing, and what made sense in the zeitgeist then doesn’t make as much sense in the zeitgeist now. Below, a list of ways in which we’ve moved on from GGW cultural trend, probably for good.

1.) The Topless Empowerment Revolution

I am hyper-fascinated with the topless empowerment movement, which is in FULL SWING, you guys. 2014 really is the year of #freethenipple. While GGW was about girls taking off their shirts for the benefit of the male gaze, #Freethenipple is about women choosing to forego clothing on top because men go shirtless all the time at the beach and in pick-up basketball games, and the whole thing about equal rights is that ALL those rights are supposed to be equal. Instagram’s Topless Tour is also all about body positivity, equal rights (and taking back the camera). It was created to help women “feel themselves again, be proud of who they are and love their beautiful bodies,” co-founder Oliver Edginton told CNN this week.

2.) Girls Owning The Word “Feminist”

There’s been a lot of talk about the words “feminist” and “feminism” on the good old interwebs these days and yes, the conversation is a heated one. It can be uncomfortable for some people, but the fact remains that it is a GOOD thing this is a conversation women (and men!) are having. We as a culture are really thinking about what feminism means (gender equality forever, hurrah and huzzah!). Which means we’re also thinking about how a series that seemed hellbent on turning women into objects and body parts (yes, GGW, we’re talking about you) wasn’t really doing much to empower the female gender.

3.) The Movie Spring Breakers

Hear me out. Spring Breakers is a cultural touchstone of a film and one of its primary goals seems to be exposing the dark underbelly of the college spring break experience. GGW did not, as far as I can tell, have such lofty goals (though someone is free to write an academic paper arguing that this company was actually critiquing the culture it seemed to be celebrating, I would LOVE to read that PH.D thesis). There was lots of critical talk about the Girls Gone Wild era in years past, but Harmony Korine did something major by making a significant piece of art criticizing said culture.

4.) The Body Positivity Movement

In addition to its seeming intent to devalue women as a group, the GGW videos also focused on celebrating one very specific type of female beauty. We are in an age where our culture is slowly but surely expanding the definition of what it means to be beautiful (all the fist pumps in the world) and now narrow definitions are taking the heat they should have been taking all along.

5.) The Selfie Revolution

Seemingly unrelated but actually SUPER related, the selfie revolution is the empowered response to the Girls Gone Wild era. Once phones got smart, everyone became their own camera crew. Girls stopped just being shot and started shooting themselves. They decided how the they wanted the world to see them on film. The selfie is an empowering art form, just think about THAT next time you flash a duck face at your camera app.

6.) Girls Gone Wild Filed For Bankruptcy

Yes, it’s true, last year the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcyGirls Gone Wild literally is a thing of the past. And last week, an appellate court upheld a judgement against Francis in a multi-million dollar slander case. Someone bump up the club remix of “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead”! (This is not a thing, but I wish it were, some enterprising DJ out there should get on it and mix that ish up).

(Image via The_Topless_Tour)

Advertisement