Bottoms in Brattleboro

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Even if a town has no laws against public nudity, it is rarely known by the citizens. While it may be legal, for example, in New York City for women to be topless it’s such an uncommon sight that many assume it to be illegal. A similar case in Brattleboro, Vermont led to the city being overrun by nudists after 2006.

Photo by Jordan Matter
Photo by Jordan Matter from his book Uncovered

Three local teenagers came across the fact public nudity was not banned. So, of course, on a hot summer day the young men went skinny dipping. Thinking it would be funny, they went to town, soon joined by another friend completely naked. Their decision to walk into town sparked the beginning of a nudist revolution in Brattleboro.

Ruby, Gold and Malachite by Henry Scott Tuke
Ruby, Gold and Malachite by Henry Scott Tuke

That summer, several others, who had either seen nudists or read an article about the guys, joined in the fun. By the next year, Brattleboro had become a tourism destination for nudists. People of all ages perused downtown shops without clothing. It became so well known that PETA began staging public, nude protests in town. No longer a rare sight, walking through town you could spot nude bike riders and hula hoopers. This was when the phenomenon became too much for some…

Photo retrieved from
Photo retrieved from

Fun had become controversy; part of the town glad and part very upset. With a vote in 2008, public nudity became illegal. Now, if you are caught with your pants down, you’ll receive a single warning. If you ignore it, that warning becomes a $25 ticket.

Brattleboro, Vermont. Photo by Ken Gallager
Brattleboro, Vermont.
Photo by Ken Gallager

Music: Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 by Franz Liszt, performed by the National Military Band

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