Here’s Where It’s Legal for Women to Go Topless in the U.S.

A guide to patchwork and confusing laws on taking it off

Local officials in the Venice Beach neighborhood of Los Angeles voiced support this week for allowing women to sunbathe topless, calling the move “a serious equality issue” and citing the city’s Italian namesake as one of many European regions where toplessness is socially acceptable. But topless sunbathing is illegal in the city and county of Los Angeles, and the local disagreement is just the skin of a patchwork of nudity laws and customs that vary by state and municipality across the country.

The vast majority of states actually have laws on the books making clear that women can’t be arrested under state law solely for being topless in settings where it’s OK for men. But many local ordinances ban the practice anyway. And there’s plenty of grey area for police officers to make their own interpretations and make arrests for “public indecency” or “disorderly conduct.”

Celebrities like Chelsea Handler and Miley Cyrus have been public critics of what they call a double-standard that women face when it comes to going shirtless, and have tried to get Instagram to stop taking down photos of breasts, garnering some support with the hashtag #FreeTheNipple. Scout Willis, daughter of the actor Bruce Willis, recently illustrated the point that women are technically permitted to walk the streets of New York City topless—but not to post topless photos on Instagram—by posting shirtless photos of herself on city sidewalks to Twitter.


So how to keep track of it all? The organization GoTopless, which advocates for “toplessness equality” in the U.S., has put together the map above illustrating the different laws in different states. Though green states indicate there is some degree of “topless freedom,” that does not mean it’s legal for women to go shirtless throughout the state. Local ordinances may ban or allow the practice in opposition to state law, and California is listed green despite the fight in Venice Beach. Orange states have “ambiguous laws;” in red states, female toplessness is illegal.

Even in areas with topless freedom, police officers may still arrest citizens for disorderly conduct. In in New York City, where it’s technically allowed, police officers have needed reminders that they cannot arrest women simply for going shirtless in locations where it would be permissible for men to do the same, the New York Times reports. “Simply exposing their breasts in public,” police were warned in 2013, doesn’t amount to a crime.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Diet Pepsi Will No Longer Contain Aspartame

The company maintains the low calorie sweetener is safe, but recognizes consumers don't want it

PepsiCo is removing the artificial sweetener aspartame from Diet Pepsi, the company has announced.

The low calorie sweetener, which is far sweeter than sucrose, has become a controversial ingredient in recent years. Consumer groups such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest say it should be avoided by the public as a possible carcinogen, even though the FDA calls it “safe for the general population.”

But thanks to its bad reputation, the company will replace aspartame with two different artificial sweeteners, Reuters reports. A PepsiCo executive explained in the announcement that “while decades of studies show aspartame is safe, we recognize that consumer demand is evolving.”

The new recipe will go into effect in August.


TIME Addiction

Here’s Where Americans Binge-Drink the Most

A new study breaks down the numbers by county

Heavy drinking and binge drinking are on the rise in the U.S., but the average amount Americans drink varies greatly by region, according to a new study.

Ten years of research, published in the American Journal of Public Health, breaks down the data by county, observing adults 21 and over who binge-drink — imbibing at least five drinks in one sitting for a man; four for a woman — and those who drink heavily, defined as more than two drinks a day for a man; and more than one for a woman.

Binge-drinking is highest in Menominee County, Wisc., the least populated in the state. Heavy drinking is highest in Esmeralda County, Nev, likewise the least populous in that state. Madison County, Idaho has the lowest levels of binge-drinking, and Hancock County, Tenn.—one of the state’s ‘dry counties’ where the sale of alcohol is prohibited—has the lowest levels of heavy drinking.

Members of affluent communities are the most likely to have at least one drink per month, the study found, while members of poor communities are most likely to binge or drink heavily.

[USA Today]

TIME cities

This Transit Authority is Apologizing for a Horrible Winter With a Day of Freebies

MBTA Offers Hope For Faster Recovery; Baker Blasts Keolis
John Blanding—Boston Globe/Getty Images Passengers wait as MBTA commuter rail train pulls into the North Beverly station in Beverly, Mass. Feb. 17, 2015, running on a special storm schedule because of the snow.

The T is free on Friday

After a record-breaking snowy winter, Boston is apologizing for months of terrible commutes with a free Friday on public transit.

In addition to free rides on the T, businesses around the city are offering discounts and freebies on Friday to anyone with a CharlieCard, the pass to use Massachusetts transit, the Boston Globe reports. Riders can get a free doughnut at Dunkin’ Donuts or a coffee from Alltown or Cumberland farms. Discounts are available at the Museum of Fine Arts, the Franklin Park Zoo the New England Aquarium and others. The measure will reportedly cost the Department of Transportation $5 million.

[Boston Globe]

TIME geology

Magma Under Yellowstone Supervolcano Could Fill Grand Canyon 14 Times

WYOMING, UNITED STATES - 1991/01/01: USA, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park, Upper Geyser Basin, Chromatic Springs. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Wolfgang Kaehler—Getty Images Yellowstone National Park, Upper Geyser Basin, Chromatic Springs.

Scientists have discovered a previously unknown reservoir

Researchers have discovered a previously unknown chamber of magma underneath Yellowstone’s supervolcano. That chamber contains 11,200 cubic miles of magma, which, in addition to the already-known 2,500 cubic miles in an upper chamber, means the combined amount could fill the Grand Canyon nearly 14 times.

The University of Utah has produced the first 3D image of the underground expanse, giving greater insight to how the hotspot works, Smithsonion reports. It has been erupting for 17 million years, most recently some 640,000 years ago. Most of the magma is hot, solid rock, not molten rock, and the risk of a new eruption has not increased with this discovery. Scientists say we would likely have fair warning before another eruption in the form of earthquakes, higher ground temperatures, or other indicators of volcanic activity.


Read next: The Problem with U.S. Wildlife Protection Efforts

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TIME Food & Drink

Johns Hopkins Votes to Ban Chick-fil-A From Campus

Kim Hairston—Baltimore Sun/Getty Images The Johns Hopkins University campus in Baltimore, Maryland.

Students object to the CEO's stance on gay marriage

Students at Johns Hopkins University voted this week to ask the school’s administrators to prevent Chick-fil-A from opening a store on campus.

Citing Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s opposition to gay marriage, students said the presence of the chain on campus would be a microaggression against LGBT members of the community, Eater reports.

Though the Student Government Association approved the resolution, the move is purely hypothetical: there’s no indication that the Johns Hopkins administration was in negotiations with Chick-fil-A, though some students had wondered whether the chain might open a location in a new building under construction on campus.


TIME movies

Here’s the First Look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades Darker

The movie will come out in 2017

Two months after the first Fifty Shades movie appeared in theaters, we already have our first photo of Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the sequel, Fifty Shades Darker. When the first movie comes out on digital HD on May 1, and on DVD and Blu-Ray on May 8, viewers will be able to see an exclusive first tease for the second film as well.

Access Hollywood premiered the exclusive first look on Thursday. Meanwhile, release dates were announced for Darker (Feb. 10, 2017) and the third movie, Fifty Shades Freed (Feb. 2018). Director Sam Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel will not return for the second and third movies, the New York Times reports. Instead, novelist E.L. James’ husband, Niall Leonard, will adapt the two books for film. A new director has not yet been announced, but production of both films is planned to begin next summer in Vancouver.

[Access Hollywood]

TIME movies

Every High School in America Is Getting a Free DVD of Selma

A scene from SELMA.
Atsushi Nishijima—AP

Teachers can also request companion study guides

Paramount is sending a free DVD of Selma to every high school in America, public and private, as part of an extended “Selma for Students” initiative.

Director Ava DuVernay made the announcement at a United Nations event on Thursday night where U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power was present. Companion study guides will also be made available to the nation’s tens of thousands of high schools for any teachers who want to teach the movie in their classrooms.

The movie about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march from Montgomery to Selma, Ala. came at a pivotal time in American politics, hitting theaters between a spate of racially charged incidents of police brutality that sparked major protests. Paramount executive Megan Colligan pointed out in a statement that the nation’s high schoolers are a particularly important audience for the film.

“With many of these students preparing to vote for the first time in next year’s elections,” she said, “it is especially fitting that they witness the bravery and fortitude of those who fought to establish the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

TIME Books

Reese Witherspoon Is Building the Ultimate Book Club

Simon & Schuster; Steve Granitz—WireImage/Getty Images; Harper Collins Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea are assembling an impressive collection of books to adapt for the screen with their production company Pacific Standard.

Sarah Begley is a culture and breaking news reporter for TIME.

With Ashley’s War and Luckiest Girl Alive, the actress's production company continues to put forth powerful female characters

Q: What does a female first lieutenant serving in Afghanistan have in common with a troubled and manipulative women’s magazine editor? A: Both are the main characters of new books optioned by Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Pacific Standard. Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soliders on the Battlefield, by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, out this week, and Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll, to be published next month, are the latest in Witherspoon’s cadre of tough cookies that make great fodder for Hollywood actresses whose cookie jars are often stocked with stereotypes.

“[Reese and I] created our company to develop and produce film and television with complex and interesting female characters,” Witherspoon’s production partner, Bruna Papandrea, said through a spokesperson. Some of the protagonists are everywomen, more representative of someone you could know in real life. (See: Reese’s turn as a grieving hiker in Wild, which Pacific Standard produced.) Others are characters whose weaknesses or even malevolence are outsize but just as interesting. (See: The scary but slightly sympathetic Amy in Gone Girl, also produced by Pacific Standard.) Either way, they avoid simplistic portrayals of feminine tropes: the virgin, the whore, the nag, the nurturer. For wherever their plots fork on the path, Cheryl and Amy both contain multitudes, just like real women.

Wild and Gone Girl made for a remarkable first two movies out the gate for Pacific Standard, racking up a collective three Oscar nominations and five Golden Globe nods. They both happened to stem from bestselling books. As a book lover who posts her latest reads on Instagram the way other celebrities photograph new accessories, Witherspoon is a starry bridge between Hollywood and the literary world — she even announced today that she’ll narrate the audiobook for the summer’s most anticipated novel, Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.

Pacific Standard has already optioned half a dozen books, ranging from The Engagements, a multi-plot-line reflection on marriage by J. Courtney Sullivan, to Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty, a story of motherhood and murder that Witherspoon will reportedly make as a limited series for television and co-star in with Nicole Kidman. Witherspoon may not appear in all of them — she reportedly stepped aside when David Fincher said she wouldn’t be right to play Amy in Gone Girl — but her push for women will be steadily behind the camera. (She’s also producing and starring opposite Sofia Vergara in Hot Pursuit, out May 8, which is not a book adaptation.)

Pacific Standard bought the rights to Ashley’s War in March, competing in a bidding war for the book while it was still in galleys. Lemmon, a veteran reporter for ABC News, The Atlantic, Newsweek and others, tells the story of the first all-Army, all-female team to serve in Afghanistan alongside the Special Operations Forces, focusing on Ashley White, who became the face of the pioneering Cultural Support Teams.

“Reese had often talked about trying to find a military story with women at the center and it is something that has always been very close to her heart,” said Papandrea. “When we read Gayle’s book we were both so inspired by these amazing women and this truly remarkable story of strength and courage.”

The troops in Ashley’s War are a humble bunch whose utility to the Army proved particularly invaluable during night raids, when men were unable to get intel from Afghan women due to cultural differences. A female soldier, however, could make the women and children feel safe and respected while gathering information about potential insurgents and dangers. As Lemmon describes it in the book, “Their job was to be the softer side of the hardest side of war.”

“What is extraordinary about what they’re doing,” Lemmon said in an interview, “is they are bringing to the big screen, to the most American of media, stories that we wouldn’t otherwise necessarily hear about strong women who are leading in all kinds of situations. And it’s not that all of the characters are infallible — quite the opposite. But they’re real, they look like our mothers, our daughters, our wives in this country.”

Luckiest Girl Alive’s protagonist is TifAni FaNelli, an insecure, status-obsessed editor at The Women’s Magazine. (Knoll herself worked at Cosmopolitan and SELF). But she has a dark secret — a past that’s known to everyone in her world who heard about the horrific event on the news a decade earlier, but is revealed to the reader incrementally.

Viewers probably won’t leave Luckiest Girl Alive wishing they had a friend just like TifAni, but they may see elements of the friends they already have in her. And if they liked Gone Girl, they’ll be thrilled to see another woman who’s allowed to be smart and mean, vulnerable and detestable. In another Hollywood, she might be a secondary character, a mean girl who serves as a foil to an ingenue’s goodness. Here, she can bask in the limelight.

Lemmon, for one, hopes the range of female characters we often find in books will trickle down to more visible platforms through work like Pacific Standard’s. “You think about what are your daughter’s going to watch on TV,” she says. “You want them to see people who look like America does.”

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME celebrities

Seth Rogen Says Government Needs to Step Up On Alzheimer’s

3rd Annual Hilarity For Charity Variety Show To Benefit the Alzheimer's Association, Presented By Genworth
Michael Buckner—Getty Images Actor Seth Rogen (R) and wife Lauren Miller attend the 3rd Annual Hilarity for Charity Variety Show to benefit the Alzheimer's Association on October 17, 2014 in Hollywood, California.

"People think it's a curable disease"

Seth Rogen may be one of America’s favorite funny guys, but when it comes to Alzheimer’s research, he’s not kidding around. Rogen’s mother-in-law was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s not long after he started dating his now-wife, Lauren Miller. He’s become a public face of advocacy for awareness about Alzheimer’s, even testifying before the Senate Committee on Appropriates last year in a bid to get more funding for research. The couple also work to raise money with their movement Hilarity for Charity, which has an event this weekend at the University of Vermont to congratulate students there for raising the most money of any college for the second year in a row. Their prize is a live narration of the Superbad soundtrack by Rogen and “McLovin” actor Christopher Mintz-Plass. We caught up with Rogen and Miller before the event.

TIME: What’s the concept behind Hilarity for Charity?

Miller: My mom was diagnosed at 55 years old with early onset Alzheimer’s. My grandfather had had it, and my grandmother. So it’s something that’s always been part of my life and affected me at an age when I was very young. After we formed Hilarity for Charity, we had all these young people reaching out to us who wanted a way to use their voices and take action, so we came up with this idea as sort of a charity-in-a-box program: we’d make it really simple for college students—fraternities, sororities, groups of friends, whatever—to throw these events, and we’d give them everything they need.

Rogen: Yep, and we thought, as much as we’d like to think a bunch of college kids would do a charity event out of the goodness of their hearts, some incentive might help in some capacity, so we tried to come up with prizes. Like me, I went and visited the school last year, met everyone and we showed an early screening of Neighbors, and this year we’re doing a live audio commentary of Superbad with me and Chris Mintz-Plass. Just stuff that you would hope they’d enjoy even if it wasn’t affiliated with a charity event in any way.

What do you hope fundraising like this can accomplish for Alzheimer’s research and treatment?

Rogen: From my perspective, it’s more about changing the conversation so that the government actually does something about it. I think the government is reactive to people’s desires as opposed to leading the way for people’s best interest. I think that people want to get elected and they want to stay in power, and if it seems like people care about something, then they appeal to that thing, you know? So that’s our real goal, is to make it that Alzheimer’s is the type of thing that people in government have to support to make the general population happy.

Do you think part of why it’s not a more strongly championed cause is because people think of it as something that affects older people?

Miller: That’s definitely one of them. It’s tough, we don’t have an adorable baby to put on our campaign posters, we don’t have success stories of people who have been cured of Alzheimer’s to get up and give a great, inspiring speech about how if you support us, people will be cured. It is an uphill battle, we’re very much at the beginning, but progress has been made. It’s just about rallying the voices. There are close to 6 million people living in this country with Alzheimer’s disease. So it’s about showing the caregivers for those people with the disease that they can use their voices, and if they do they’ll be heard, and change will come.

Rogen: And considering it’s costing the government more than any other disease, it’s especially odd that they don’t put more resources into trying to cure it.

Do you think a movie like Still Alice was helpful to the cause of raising awareness?

Rogen: Yeah!

Miller: Oh, very. For Julianne Moore to portray someone with early onset Alzheimer’s was extremely helpful, and definitely educational. So many people saw it and came to me and said, “I didn’t know!” It was a huge step in the right direction. If you look at diseases like cancer, 30 years ago people whispered it because you didn’t say “cancer,” it wasn’t in TV shows and movies.

Rogen: And then it started to be. Movies like Love Story started to normalize it and make it something you don’t have to be ashamed of. It’s portrayed in the culture, and so it seems less like something you should be secretive about.

Miller: There’s also the stigma. A lot of people, when they’re diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my mom included—she wouldn’t let us tell anyone. For a couple years, until she was so far advanced that it was so obvious and she didn’t know we were telling people, she wouldn’t let us tell anyone. Which is really sad. We just want to try to end that stigma.

I read that some doctors don’t even tell their patients they have Alzheimer’s.

Miller: That’s a huge issue. A lot of doctors don’t tell, because a lot of patient’s don’t want to know. They say, “Well if I have dementia, just leave it, I don’t want to know. And that’s not okay! People need to know. You can only attack something in the correct way if you know. And often it’s not being reported as a cause of death in an autopsy, which is a huge issue, because more people are dying from this disease than are currently recorded.

What is your hope for the future of Alzheimer’s research and treatment?

Rogen: I mean, people think it’s a curable disease.

Miller: There’s a lot of promising studies out there, and if the government would just get behind and fund a heckuva lot more of them, I know we’d be a lot closer.

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