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Sun safety and skin health


Top-free equality


Men don’t think twice about stripping off their shirt to cool off on a hot day — we just take it for granted. Apart from beaches in a few oases of progressivism, however, it’s not so for women. Although there is no objective reason for treating the sexes unequally, the law prevents women from enjoying this simple comfort in most places where it goes unquestioned for men.


Brave women and their supporters have challenged this unfairness on constitutional grounds in a number of jurisdictions, with a mixed result of victories and setbacks. A case was pending for a long time against a top-free activist, Liz Book, stemming from her shirtless demonstration for top-free equality in Daytona Beach in March 2004.


Liz and several other women, some of them our friends from South Florida Free Beaches / Florida Naturist Association (SFFB/FNA), were arrested during a follow-up demonstration a year later.* The initial charge was indecent exposure, but it was changed to disorderly conduct. The defendants planned to plead not guilty, but the disposition of that case is unclear. Finally, in June 2005, a county judge ruled that Liz’s original protest was constitutionally protected free speech, and dismissed the charges from the prior year. The City of Daytona Beach appealed the ruling, but eventually lost on September 25, 2007.


To refocus public attention on the issue, Liz held another top-free demonstration in Daytona Beach on Saturday, July 2, 2005 in front of Peabody Auditorium, alongside several classical sculptures of bare-breasted female figures. Now barred from invoking Florida’s indecent exposure statute against her, local police arrested Liz on disorderly conduct charges instead, claiming she disturbed the peace by causing a traffic jam and sidewalk blockage, “corrupt[ing] the public morals[,] and outrag[ing] the sense of public decency…”


Liz vowed to fight the new charges, and her initial hearing was set for Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2005. Exactly one year later, the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court of Appeals in Florida affirmed the earlier ruling that women may appear top-free in public to protest an ordinance against top-freedom. The City of Daytona Beach stubbornly continued to appeal. In a further victory on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006, however, the judge in the July 2005 disorderly conduct trial found Liz not guilty.


Liz held another top-free public “demonstration” (she just stood on a bridge and fished) in Daytona Beach on March 8, 2008, and, for once, the police didn’t bother her. On May 7, 2008, Liz won a victory of sorts, collecting from the City of Daytona Beach a court-approved, negotiated award of $15,000 in partial coverage of damages stemming from her arrests, and a dismissal of any pending charges. (Her lawsuit had initially requested $100,000.) In a slap, however, the City amended its code to ban public nudity in constitutional protest of, well, bans on public nudity! (It seems to imply by such specificity that public nudity for any other purpose, or none at all, is not a violation. Such singular treatment begs a First Amendment challenge on the basis of prior restraint of free expression.)


For details, contact Liz. (Her access to e-mail is sporadic, so please be patient for a reply.) You may also donate to B.E.A.C.H.E.S. Foundation Institute.

For more information on this issue, see:


Topfree Equal Rights Association


GoTopless (National Go Topless Day, late August of every year)


* Daytona Top-Free Protest (A Personal Account)

(Article in Summer 2005 issue of The SunDial, a journal that SFFB/FNA used to publish)


Busting the Boob Ban (Orlando Weekly)




Sun safety and skin health – some common-sense suggestions


[Webmaster’s note: The following letter to the editor from several dermatologists appeared in the Nov. 14, 2006 edition of The Miami Herald.  For additional information on this topic, visit the website of the American Academy of Dermatology at If you notice any suspect changes in your skin, do not hesitate to make an appointment with a dermatologist.]


Re: Dr. Robert D. Bibb's Nov. 2 Other Views column, Sunscreen and skin cancer: Bibb's claim that the use of sunscreens has seriously increased the incidence of melanoma is incorrect.


Sunscreens, properly used, provide protection from the damage of harmful UV rays that cause skin cancer, including melanoma. We must all be educated on how to properly use sunscreens. Most people apply only 25 to 50 percent of the amount actually required to achieve the rated sun-protection factor. They also do not apply sunscreens uniformly or often enough to achieve the rated SPF value.


Sunscreens are not a free pass to sunbathe. UV rays should be avoided during peak hours, and everyone should apply sunscreen as part of the daily skin-care ritual.


The idea that sunscreen use increases the risk of melanoma by prolonging exposure of susceptible individuals to the sun was disproved in several case-control studies. Unfortunately, however, melanoma is increasing for other reasons. According to one study, melanoma incidents in fair-skinned populations increase with proximity to the Equator. Unsurprisingly, it was found that people's risk of melanoma increases when they move from areas of low- to high-sun exposure. A second factor was the role of the depleting ozone layer. And third, genetics may be just as important as UV exposure in development of melanomas. Genetic attributes such as skin, hair and eye color, presence of mutations in tumor suppressor genes and presence of atypical moles all play a role.


Other factors that may be attributed to the increase in melanoma include the increased popularity of tanning booths, diagnosis of thinner lesions, early detection of lesions, better reporting techniques and increased life expectancy.


We are not suggesting that sunscreen is a panacea. Individuals should minimize sun exposure during peak UV hours (10 a.m-4 p.m.), wear protective clothing, hats and sunglasses and seek shade in addition to using sunscreen daily. Anti-oxidants are also recommended, with the best-studied agents being vitamins C, E and Ferulic Acid.


Except for total sun avoidance, sunscreens along with the above protective measures remain the best method of protection from UV-induced damage to the skin, including skin cancer.


KEYVAN NOURI, MD, professor, dermatology and cutaneous surgery


JOELY KAUFMAN, MD, assistant professor, cosmetic dermatology



Department of Dermatology,

University of Miami, Miami