It is now legal for women – and men – to be topless at beaches on the popular vacation island of Nantucket, off the coast of Massachusetts.
Earlier this year, a local-led “Gender Equality on Beaches” campaign proposed a bylaw amendment that would make it legal for anyone of any gender to go nude from the waist up while on a beach on the island.
Although Nantucket voters had already voted yes on the proposed bylaw in May, the decision became official when Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey approved it on December 6.
Under the previous law, women could be fined $300 and faced a penalty of up to three years in prison if caught topless on the island.
In the document issued by her office, Healey says that Nantucket’s decision might be controversial, but it doesn’t conflict with any state laws.
“We approve the Town’s vote authorizing any person to go topless on any public or private beach in Nantucket because we discern no conflict between the vote and the Constitution or laws of the Commonwealth. The Town has the authority to choose what activities it will allow on town beaches,” she wrote.
Healey added that the American Civil Liberties Union had submitted a letter in support of the bylaw.
Public nudity, specifically at beaches, remains up for debate in many parts of the United States.
In 2021, UK swimwear brand Pour Moi created a map showing the different rules around topless and/or nude sunbathing in different US states.
Massachusetts was categorized as a place where “public nudity is deemed unacceptable but there are unofficial nudist beaches or reports that topless sunbathing is OK in specific locations.”
Nantucket, a 105-square-mile island off of Cape Cod, is one of the US’ best known summer travel destinations.
Musician Carly Simon, Google executive Eric Schmidt and reality star Kourtney Kardashian are among the celebrities who reportedly own homes there.
Top: Great Point Lighthouse on Nantucket. Image from Adobe Stock.