caribana topless dancers

Topless dancers to appear in Toronto's Caribana parade for the first time

One of Toronto's most highly-anticipated annual events is set to kick off this weekend along the waterfront, bringing hundreds of thousands of revelers together for the all-out spectacle of music, dancing, costumes and more that is Caribana.

More specifically, it's the Toronto Caribbean Carnival's Grand Parade: the marquee event in a four-week long celebration of Caribbean culture that brings millions of tourists to the city each year.

Attendees can expect the usual flurry of mas dancers adorned in breathtaking, colourful costumes, both on floats and in the glitter-laden streets — but one float in particular will likely get more attention than the rest.

A group of topless women will be sharing space with one of the mas bands this year in what amounts to a first for Caribana, and a win for the people behind a local self-love advocacy group.

The Boob Book Project, founded by acclaimed Toronto-based photographer Yvonne Stanley, describes itself as "a platform to recognize, respect and appreciate the spectrum of diverse breasts that exist."

"Breasts are the most contradicted, feted, sexualized and taboo part of a woman's body. They also make beautiful art and bold political statements," reads the project's website.

"We hope to create a safe space for self-love and challenge the current standards and beliefs about beauty."

In an effort to spread her message and celebrate the diverse bodies of women at the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, Stanley approached several mas bands about including "ambassadors" for the project aboard their floats.

She told CBC Toronto this week that her idea was welcomed with open arms by 100 per cent of those she reached out to.

Carnival is the day to gather all your insecurities and opinions others have of you and throw it in the air like confetti and WUK THROUGH IT!!!!!!! Dont spend another, year, day or moment wasting your time hiding your beautiful body or feeling insecure because once these moments pass you can’t get them back. Today, right now, and forever more we celebrate you and your magical self.  Feeling confident? Visit and #DaretoBare to represent for women around the world that look just like you. Follow @theboobbook & @we.want.ev Visit to win a $700 photoshoot #Effyourbeautystandards #TorontoCaribbeanCarnival #Carnival #Theboobbook #Daretobare #Bodypositivity #Meme #elevatedvision @everybodyplayahmas @flawsofcouture #daretobare

A post shared by The Boob Book Project (@theboobbook) on

Four ambassadors and two security guards representing The Boob Book Project will be dancing aboard a float in this year's Grand Parade, Stanley confirmed in an interview with CBC published today.

The dancers will be wearing traditional mas costume bottoms, but no tops  — which has been perfectly legal in Ontario since 1996.

"The four girls that have been sponsored are going to be airbrushed, we'll have some glitter, maybe a couple of jewels but we really want to keep them topless as much as they can be, to really get the point across," she said.

Festival organizers support the movement as an act of self love, though they do admit that there "is a conservative part of Toronto's Caribbean community" that may "frown upon topless dancers."

"This is not to expose people," said the Festival Management Committee's CEO Chris Alexander to CBC Toronto. "It's to be proud of who you are."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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