Free the Nipple Already

Bra-Free-Lifting-Shirts-skyline-graffiti Photo : Rachel Mandel

On a rare night of trashy TV indulgence, I hit the goldmine: a show on E! about plastic surgeons fixing the shoddy workmanship of other plastic surgeons.

Among the patients was a fascinating woman with the hugest rack I have ever seen. I think it actually held a record. That was her wish, anyway—to increase her bust to record-breaking proportions. However, there were complications associated with such a procedure: namely, the human body wasn’t designed to support a size ZZ cup (just guessing here, the boob alphabet is a mystery even to some women). Alas, our well-endowed heroine needed a preliminary examination with the handsome doctors. And the exam that followed the commercial break was when I realized precisely why it’s time to free the nipple: because we’ve seen everything else. 

During the exam, I watched two men fondle, poke, prod, illuminate, squeeze and lift this woman’s breasts as a pathetic pixelated blur haphazardly chased her rogue nipples around. The cameras captured everything. Viewers were elbow deep in this woman’s chest and yet the FCC still deemed it necessary to smear out the one part of her anatomy that confirmed: yes, that’s a boob. 

The whole thing was fascinating and grotesque, but the pathetic attempt at censorship was obnoxious. It raised the questions: Why waste the time and studio dollars to deny the true anatomy of this woman? For whom? If the network doesn’t want certain people to be exposed to the natural human body, then it shouldn’t air shows that take us through the process of inserting playground-ball-sized bags of silicone into someone’s breasts.

I don’t personally want to be bombarded with nipples on Instagram or witness Oak Street Beach become a topless one. But this is not an issue of personal taste. Frankly, the “free the nipple” situation has become absurd and I don’t think even someone who believes in modesty can deny it. Yes, a woman’s nipple should not be sexualized while a man’s is not. But the real reason we need to start seeing nipples is so that the hypocrisy can end. There’s nakedness everywhere, and the nipple isn’t the problem.

The networks attempting to strategically cheat nudity need to stop pretending that they aren’t still objectifying women’s bodies by blotting out part of it. The companies appointing themselves as judges of decency need to stop pretending that a black bar or a flesh-colored blur is a real form of censorship. We all need to stop pretending that the breast is a nipple-less entity.

Last year, we freed the ass crack. Now let’s free the damn nipple already.