Michael Winter, USA TODAY
USA TODAY - A Canadian newspaper columnist is getting some belated exposure for having bared her breasts while interviewing her hometown mayor ahead of last Sunday's "Go Topless Day," which is intended to promote equality between men and women.
Toplessness is legal in Canada unless it's deemed indecent.
Lori Welbourne, who writes for The Province in British Columbia and also hosts a radio show, was asking Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray about the law and what would happen if she walked down the city's streets topless. She then handed Gray the microphone and undid the straps of her sundress to eliminate the hypothetical nature of her question.
Gray, seeming uncomfortable but maintaining his composure, asked her what she was doing. "It's really hot in here," said Welbourne, a married mother of two children.
Without skipping a beat, the mayor then explained that if someone spotted a topless woman on the street they "would probably call the police, thinking that that was illegal."
"So I can go topless here in Kelowna?" asked Welbourne, whose father was a "nude in peep's clothing" when she was growing up in the lakeside city of 117,000 in southern B.C.
"Well, evidently," replied Gray. "I'm not suggesting you should do that, but I don't think you'd be committing any crime or breaking any bylaw."
"It was just the answer I was hoping for," Welbourne wrote in the column that followed.
Not because I have any desire or intention of baring my breasts in public. I don't. But I do appreciate knowing that I could legally do it if I wanted to. In some countries women would be stoned to death for such a "crime." I am eternally grateful to be living here, and not there.
Welbourne wrote that she had been wondering how many women in her hometown would "ditch their shirts" for Sunday's event ("Not many is my guess") and that she has "long been fascinated with our continent's puritanical views on nudity, and the double standard we have when it comes to seeing the chest of a woman in comparison to a man."
It was once a criminal act for a woman's nipples to be seen in public. Now, in most states, with the exception of Utah, Indiana and Tennessee, it's either perfectly legal, or the laws are ambiguous like they are in most of the provinces in Canada.
Go Topless Day, which also encourages men to wear bras or bikini tops, fell on the Sunday nearest Women's Equality Day, Aug. 26. Next year it falls on Aug. 24.