It’s Time to Free The Nipple…Again

While the world was caught up watching how the events of a social media vigilante fighting Instagram after it banned a photo showing menstruation unfolded, on the other side of the world, another social media storm was brewing over photos of some nipples.

The story went like this (as reported by The Independent): a 17-year old student in Iceland, Adda Þóreyjardóttir Smáradóttir, whose also the chair of the feminist society at her college, announced that her school would be celebrating a “Free the Nipple” day last Thursday (the #FreeTheNipple hashtag went viral last year in an attempt to bring light to how social media sites, especially Facebook—which banned a photo we posted of bare female chests for a story we ran on FEMEN—ban imagery of female nipples). A male student disagreed with Smáradóttir’s idea and posted a photo of himself bare chested in protest, adding that he would receive a negative reaction if he came to school like this (would he though?). In response, Smáradóttir posted an image of herself topless. And that’s when the shitstorm erupted: a troll soon took to Twitter and body-shamed Smáradóttir.

“It was difficult and I had to delete the picture for a few minutes, but it was enough to start a revolution,” Smáradóttir wrote on Facebook (in Icelandic). Just like Rupi Kaur and her uprise against Instagram, Smáradóttir has also become somewhat of a hero, inspiring a bunch of women, especially from Iceland, to take to social media and post their own bare nipple pics, thus reigniting the #FreeTheNipple hashtag in a major way.

Just like with what happened with Kaur, what’s really positive about stories like this is that they provoke debate and solidarity amongst the worldwide community via social media. In a case of blatant irony, social media helps to purport and spread the very things it attempts to stop. However, what’s most worrying is the other side of what stories like these highlight: why is social media banning images of women’s body parts and natural bodily processes in the first place, and why do people think it’s OK to use social media to body-shame others? Are we really living in a time in which photos of period blood or nipples are not fit for public consumption? That they are things to be ashamed of, things we need to hide? I know I’m not saying anything new here, just reiterating a completely ridiculous fact. But what’s sad is that it needs to be reiterated until social media, the media, and the world in general get the message.

“It’s just a body part. Boys have breasts and nipples and it’s fine for them to expose them. The same should apply to us,” said Heiður Anna Helgadóttir, the chair of the Feminist Association of the University of Iceland, as according to Iceland Review. Yes, it should all be so simple. And why it’s not is truly mind-boggling. Now excuse me while I go find a suitable image to post this story on Facebook so that’s it’s not removed—one that DOESN’T show bare female nipples.

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Title image source: Twitter

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