"Bare chested" refers to the state of not wearing any clothes above the waist. If someone is bare chested, then their entire torso is exposed. It is also known as "stripped to the waist", or "being shirtless", or "topless", although the latter is usually only applied to women. It is much more common for men to be bare chested than women, since in most places it is illegal for a woman to be bare chested. See also topfree equality.
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Attitudes to bare chesters
For centuries many men, such as farmers and miners, worked bare chested. This was, and is, particularly true in hot climates. During the Victorian period, nudity or partial nudity such as being bare chested was seen as wrong, and people took great pains to cover themselves up. During the 20th Century, attitudes began to relax, and going bare chested in public was no longer seen as shocking. Originally men were bare chested only at the beach, swimming pools, etc. In New York City, removing one's shirt in Central Park was an occasion for a ticket as late as 1960.
In Muslim countries, people (women in particular) are encouraged to cover up, and shoulders and thighs must not be shown. Therefore, going bare chested is frowned upon in the Muslim world. Even in Europe and North America, there are some people who do take offence at a bare-chested man, and there are shops who will refuse to serve bare chested people, having policies of "no shirt, no shoes, no service".
Going bare chested
There is not necessarily anything sexual about going bare chested in public. Most bare chesters do it because they want to, or because it is hot and they find wearing a shirt is uncomfortable.
Apart from social aspects and temperature, reasons for wearing a shirt include:
Famous bare chesters
A lot of musicians go bare chested whilst performing, this may add to the visual attractiveness of the musicians and their performance, and is also practical due to the intense heat from the studio/arena lights. Actors and wrestlers also appear bare chested. Tatoos and body art such as nipple piercings are often displayed by bare chested rock musicians. Famous bare chesters include:
- Brandon Boyd, singer in funk group Incubus (there is at least one shirtless scene in each chorus in the video for their 2001 hit Drive)
- Clark Gable. Gable's bare chested scene in the movie It Happened One Night is widely believed to have caused a drop in the sale of undershirts
- Ian Grushka, bassist in punk group New Found Glory
- Salman Khan, Indian Bollywood actor
- Daron Malakian, guitarist of rock group System of a Down
- Flávio and Gustavo Mendonça, stars of Brazilian soap operas
- Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen
- Jim Morrison, singer of The Doors. While he did not perform bare chested often, his shirtless appearance in publicity photos accompanying the Door's 1967 debut album cover was extremely influential in male fashion
- Nick Oliveri, ex-bassist in rock group Queens of the Stone Age
- Iggy Pop, singer
- Red Hot Chili Peppers, rock group who frequently perform shirtless (hence the terminology doing a Red Hot Chilli Peppers)
- Bon Scott, lead singer of AC/DC
- Frank Sepe, bodybuilder
- Grace Slick, female vocalist of Jefferson Airplane, performed shirtless outdoors to save her blouse from a sudden downpour
- Shirtless Men World A site about bare chested men, with article on why to go bare chested, where to do it, and famous people who do it.
Various online groups discuss the subject, often supporting men who want to go bare chested but have internalized American society's increasing discomfort with shirtless men. Like the preceding page, these groups all use the word "shirtless" more than "bare-chested," and many would prefer "shirt-free"! At this writing, they include: