I just saw a sentence:
Men protesting the law were bare from waist up.
I would write it as:
Men protesting the law were bare from above their waist.
How would native speakers say it?
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I think your second sentence is a little confusing, as it is not a standard way to write it so I would assume you are writing it that way in specific, and I would interpret it as more like
Men protesting the law were bare from (some unknown spot) above their waist.
which would leave me a little confused about which part of them is actually bare!
Casually I would use "shirtless" or perhaps "bare-chested". "Bare from the waist up" sounds a little more stiff, like something a reporter would write.