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Living / Lizzie Coop

This Awesome Film Responds To Every Boob-Related Taboo

Women are forever being told where they can and can’t or should and shouldn’t show, or talk about, their boobs. Even in 2018.

If you’ve spent a lot of time on Instagram, chances are you’re aware of the platform’s strict no-nipples policy, which tells us that any posts featuring nipples – even cartoon nips – will be removed (often in minutes). In fact, although #FreeTheNipple has been used more than 3,900,000 times only a curated edit of ‘Top Posts’ – all of which have been censored in some way – can be viewed.

The issue isn’t confined to online spaces though, it affects how we exist in the ‘real’ world too. There’s still a ‘look-away’ culture associated with breastfeeding in public and ads hinting at the possibility of bare nipples are met with censorship on public transport links. Men however can show off their nipples as they please, because it’s specifically female flesh that’s too dangerous for public consumption (apparently).

Take a moment to scratch below the surface though, and what society really seems to be telling us, is that online and offline spaces are no-nipple bearing zones, if you’re a woman. 

Frustrated by this sexist double standard Nowness commissioned and released a short-film titled, Nipples. Directed by Matt Lambert, narrated by Adwoa Aboah and part of the video platform’s Define Beauty series, Nipples frees the nipple of both censorship and gender imbalance to present viewers with a different way of looking. “The shame of intimacy affects so many of us. It’s something that I’m constantly battling with,” says filmmaker and photographer Matt Lambert to Nowness of the project.

Featuring nipples of all shapes, sizes, colours and genders, the video encourages you to see beyond the filtered images Instagram serves up: “Now please let’s learn from this film, there’s no nipple norm, no homogenised form”. With more and more online body image policers controlling the representation – or lack of – breasts online, the film offers up a refreshing antidote to the stereotypical, one-size-fits-all expectation of beauty.

Nipples also makes a great point about society’s inconsistencies: “If anything shows the absurdity of gender politics, it’s the social media censorship of female nips. We hashtag #FreeTheNipple and shout ‘no more Page 3’, which despite appearances, is not contradictory. They ask for different things but they’re on the same side, they’re saying a woman’s body is not to be objectified”.

The short film ends in a tone of defiance, as Adwoa Aboah encourages people to “see past gender” and remember that social media does not define beauty standards: “When an account is suspended or a post removed, they are saying only their opinion is approved”.


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