“I’m not sitting here saying, ‘Fuck me, I’m a hoe, looking for attention.’ they’re just artsy nudes.” Karly Struble, a 19-year-old sophomore at Champlain College said hastily as she discussed how her nude picture was taken down from Instagram.
What is it about female nipples that make people so uncomfortable? Why is it that males can show theirs but women can’t? How can a single body part become so sexualized?
Struble tested these mind nippling limits on Instagram. She posted her nude or partially nude body on four separate occasions. The first two were “shitty selfies.” One showed off the ever so popular under-boob, and her hair just covered her nipples in the second. The third was a full frontal, backlit and filtered black and white. In 10 hours or less, her third photo was taken down, and she was sent a long explanation saying it was due to female nipples.
In terms of what can be forcibly removed from the app, Instagram’s Community Guidelines specifically say, “It also includes some photos of female nipples, but photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed.”
Unless the nipple is covered by a pasty mouth of a nursing baby—or in Kendall Jenner’s case some pizza emojis—don’t think about posting it to Instagram. It is also fair to point out that after women receive a mastectomy, they no longer have a nipple, creating a photograph of simply a female breast.
Countless famous works of art show the female nipple, such as the Venus de Milo, Francisco de Goya’s “The Nude Maja,” and Titian’s “Venus of Urbino.” Historically, nudity never had the negative connotations that it does now, which is ironic, since we live in the age of the “hookup culture,” where girls can take their shirts off for any random dude at or after the party. Just don’t let anyone see your non-sexualized nipples. Because what are those good for, right?
The Free the Nipple campaign has been going on for years, and yet, little to no progress has been made. Celebrities such as Chelsea Handler, Amy Schumer (Strubles’ inspirations), Miley Cyrus, and Rihanna have been large advocates for the cause and simultaneously received major backlash.
Struble has had anything but backlash online. On her fourth picture, where she scribbled out her nipples, one girl said, “Hate that u had to hide ur nipples fuck that man.” As for offline, Struble doesn’t know for sure if people think differently of her—she has yet to have any negative face-to-face interactions.
Posts like this create a different persona online for anyone willing to bare their nips, especially when thinking about entering the professional world in a few years. Struble isn’t worried about what employers think, especially when she said, “I’m not gonna want to work for you if you’re going to shut my body down… I’m focusing on fighting [social norms] and Instagram’s policies.”
So ladies and gents, take your shirts off and free your nipples. Let the sun warm them and the world see them.
Unless you live in a cold climate, then you should cover up. Protect your nips from danger. Like frostbite.
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