WOMEN and men took part in a topless march along Brighton seafront on Saturday afternoon as part of a campaign to desexualise the female body.

Organisers of the Free The Nipple event said it was being held to highlight the double standard where men can bare their chests in public but women can’t.

They said it was because of sexualised images of breasts that appear in the media and online and it had reached a point where women often come under fire for nursing their babies in public.

Campaigners said the double standard was a symptom of a wider issue in attitudes towards women and had damaging sexist undertones

The group gathered in Madeira Drive near Brighton Palace Pier before making their way to Hove Lawns where a rally took place.

Among those taking part was Beckah Hawkins, 37, from Woodingdean, who took along her sons Ethan, five, and Eugene, 19 months.

She said: “I use my nipples to feed my children and it is a natural part of my body.

“There should not be any shame in this and it is important that we educate kids so they understand this.

“I had a horrible experience once when I was shouted at in the supermarket when feeding my second child.

“I was being discreet and he was in a carrier but this person told me I was being disgusting.

“It was the first time anything like this had happened and it absolutely knocked me for six.”

Rachel Beck, 70, from Hove: “This is about the whole issue of body shaming and what we are supposed to look like as a woman.

“Girls are made to feel bad because they don’t look a particular way.

“Why should you only be beautiful if you want to show yourself?”

Organiser Bee Nicholls said: “Free The Nipple Brighton is about spreading a new kind of message.

“One that says that we don’t have to subscribe to unrealistic beauty ideals or sexist double standards.

“Our bodies are policed, commoditised and scrutinised in every conceivable way and it’s high time for that to end.

“Breasts are a normal body part with a function yet they are so heavily sexualised that often women can’t even publicly feed their infants without being shamed.”