Michelle Bennett

The beaches of Duluth are known for their serenity, but what unfolded in the sand last week is causing quite the stir. A Duluth woman's sunbathing habits are sparking statewide conversation on how nudity should be defined.

Minneapolis, MN (WCCO) -- The beaches of Duluth are known for their serenity, but what unfolded in the sand last week is causing quite the stir. A Duluth woman’s sunbathing habits are sparking statewide conversation on how nudity should be defined.

Michelle Bennett was topless when an officer asked her to put her top back on, but what happened next was complicated.

“A woman approached me after about 20 minutes of laying in the sun, asking me to put a top on, saying I was making her children uncomfortable,” Bennett said.

Bennett says she regularly sunbathes without a top on at local Duluth beaches. But last week a woman who was uncomfortable and a police officer tried to put a stop to it.

“He heard that someone has been refusing to put a top on and that it wasn’t a nude beach,” Bennett said. “I pointed out to him that I wasn’t nude, I was topless.”

The two had a long discussion before Bennett agreed to put her top back on.

“They really couldn’t establish if I was breaking a law because of that ambiguous language,” she said.

The state statute on indecent exposure states it’s when someone willfully and lewdly exposes the person’s body, or the private parts thereof. That’s a statute that’s up for interpretation and not always enforced.

“If there’s people that are around that are feeling uncomfortable with behavior that’s attached to a law stating that that behavior isn’t legal, then that’s a point to step in,” Ingrid Hornibrook, with the Duluth Police Department, said.

It’s also a situation that has people divided.

“In an area like Duluth, where that’s not common, are you doing it because you’re trying to bring attention to yourself?” one Duluth beach-goer said.

Bennett said if men’s breasts are fair game to be exposed in public, women’s should be too, but it’s not legally clear as to what’s decent and what’s not. Depending on where you live, counties, cities, and parks can have their own ordinances on how nudity is defined. But as WCCO found, those can be vaguely worded as well.

There is a clear exception to state law though: breastfeeding is always allowed.

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(12) comments

Comment deleted.
Daddy

Don't be daunted, brothers & sisters, by the words and comments of those who oppose our unity and support for our people. Their opposition to our unity is born out of their great disdain and racial prejudice toward us. Enjoy the video and continue learning about our heritage and culture.

Comment deleted.
Djamz

The Dummy above is a re-tard who can’t seem to find a friend

ThinkingDude

It's easy, if a woman wants to sun sunbathe topless, then she needs to either go to a nude beach or find some ultra secluded spot with no one around. It sounds like the woman in question chose to go semi-nude at a family-friendly beach where there were kids around. This is simply not the appropriate environment for semi-nude sunbathing.

Tuishimi

Yes. She is trying to bring attention to herself.

LorraineMildred

Turn around and let the readers decide if you are nude or topless

Marley

If I turn around I won't be able to see my monitor, oh, you mean her, my bad!

JustinP

Read the law; it's quite clear she was breaking it.

ObeyLaws

Uh oh, Wayne kenoff keep your hands on the keyboard when you look at this pic....

Wayne kenoff

One hand on the phone [whistling]

Marley

Sort of a ti.t-for-tat argument, both sides have valid points. Will have to stay abreast of the outcome

ObeyLaws

Don't be a boob Marley.

Marley

If mammary serves me correctly, I was just having a little harmless play on words over a non-newsworthy story. Not everything is life and death serious.

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