Photos of the First Topless Summer At Berlin’s Public Pools

Since March, everyone's allowed to swim topless in Berlin swimming pools. We asked some women how it’s going for them.
Topless women at Berlin's public pools - On the left in the picture a naked woman's upper body, on the right in the picture a hand holding a bowl full of fries,

This article originally appeared on VICE Germany.

In March 2023, Berlin officially allowed everyone to be topless at the pool - including people with boobs. Before that, being topless wasn’t explicitly forbidden, but it wasn’t really allowed either. 

The change in rules happened after several women tried to go topless swimming in pools, but the staff wouldn’t let them in. One of them was 33-year-old Lotte Mies who filed a successful discrimination at the city’s department for justice, diversity and anti-discrimination.


In August, VICE photographer Zejna Halilbašić went for a swim with her camera at the Neukölln outdoor pool to document how women feel about the new rules. They preferred to only share their first names or use an alias for privacy reasons.

Anna, 24

Left: A woman sits topless on a blanket in an outdoor pool, she is wearing a pink bikni bottom and a green pareo. There are three other women behind her | Right: A yellow clock with speakers is set to 8 minutes to 6. There are trees in the background

Photo: Zejna Halilbašić

Anna doesn't really care about what others think about her being topless. But sometimes, she worries people might feel uncomfortable because it’s not fully accepted in our society yet. She’s hopeful, though. “It’s getting better,” she says. “If we just keep doing it, we’ll get there eventually. If not now, then maybe sometime in the hopefully near future.”

Lucia, 36

Left: A woman lying topless on a blanket in an outdoor pool and reading a book | Right: Open and closed white and blue lockers in an outdoor pool

Photo: Zejna Halilbašić

Lucia feels like the change happened quite fast and many people don’t even pay attention to topless women anymore. Being topless feels safe to her. “At least here, in this somewhat quieter area, I don't feel the male gaze,” she says. “Or I haven't perceived it that way.”

She’s with a group of people who are all topless, too, which makes her feel more comfortable. “But I also go topless alone to the Prinzenbad [an outdoor pool in Kreuzberg] and feel safe there on the sun platforms.”

Margit, 73

Left: A woman sits topless in the grass, with a black bikini bottom and covers her face with a shirt | Right: the blue water of an outdoor pool

Photo: Zejna Halilbašić

Margit has come to this pool since she was a child and has fond memories of it. Unfortunately, she’s recently been stared down by a teenager because she was topless. “He probably wanted to start a fight,” she says. Since the incident, she’s been sitting at a different spot, but still topless. She won't let this experience ruin her great memories at the pool.


Olga, 40

A woman sits topless in the grass, we can only see her arm, chest and belly

Photo: Zejna Halilbašić

Olga really likes sunbathing topless because it makes her feel free. “I like my body and I've always sunbathed this way,” she says. “It's great that you can do it in Berlin now.”

Ida, 36

Left: The naked back of a brown-haired woman lying on a blanket | right: water flows from a red water mushroom in an outdoor pool

Photo: Zejna Halilbašić

“I had a child a few years ago and I breastfed,” Ida says. “Then I thought, ‘Shit, these breasts can do so much, I don't need to hide them!’” Since then, it's been easier for her to go topless. But at the pool, it depends on the general atmosphere. “Right now, I find it easy because it’s quiet,” she says. '“On very busy days, it’s harder, because you have a lot of other people close to you.”