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Articles > News & Politics June, 20, 2015

Fashion And Nipple Freedom

Charlotte Sumner
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The notion that women should be allowed to freely express themselves through their appearances goes hand in hand with fashion. For years, designers have been borrowing from this ideology in order to create seasonal lines which appeal to women, whether it is through celebrity endorsement or the stigma attached to the label, it has been a quick fire way of creating a mass following and allows women the opportunity to confidently dress for themselves. Not for male counterparts.

Fashion mogul Alexa Chung openly describes herself as a feminist and supports equality of genders. Most recently being pictured in Whistles controversial ‘This is What a Feminist Looks Like’ shirt, thus drawing her international male and female fan base toward the idea of feminism, diminishing the inaccurate ‘ugly’ image it once bared. As positive as this image is, it lends itself to the idea that younger generations will not be supporting the feminist movement due to the scarily large cases of gender inequality that come with it, but because it is fashionable right now, a controversial image may gain you more followers perhaps? This is not the label that should be worn as a feminist, there should be no label.

During the Spring/Summer ’15 Paris Fashion Week, major fashion house Chanel followed the women’s liberation suit. The catwalk did not have a feminist ‘theme’, instead it can only be described as a feminist and fashion parade. Under direction of designer and creator Karl Lagerfeld and led by model, actress and feminist Cara Delevingne, the catwalk saw models recreating scenes of teen revolution in the streets in the 1960s, each model proudly clutching and waving a picket sign reading statements such as ‘boys should get pregnant’ bringing the notion and reality of feminism right back to the 21st century.

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Do you think fashion is helping nipple freedom?

The mere fact that prestigious designers such as Chanel are boasting this image of feminism shows that the movement is fashionable but not a trend. A movement like this has been well overdue, the ‘Dapper Laughs’ controversy reignited our reasoning for becoming a feminist, popular culture industries are fighting each other with conflicting views, becoming offensive and degrading is now fashionable, and the fashion industries are fighting against this.

Through the means of social media, feminist campaign ‘Free the Nipple’ has flourished. The purpose – to remove the sexual stigma attached to the image of female breasts in comparison to a male. The campaign itself has sparked rallies across America and the United Kingdom with women bearing their chests in protest of the sexualisation of their bodies for the benefit of the male gender. Free the Nipple has produced a short film, to be released in independent cinemas featuring real life footage of women facing the backlash from society when presenting their ‘areolas’ in public.

When it is given enough thought it is made apparent how unfair it is that a male should have the right to ‘go topless’ in public without receiving any form of negative repercussion. The male torso is not as ludicrously sexualised as that of a women, deriving from the 1940’s ideology that a woman is the property of a male, therefore her body is there for the sexual arousing of a male counterpart. Their argument is, why are women’s chests censored? What is there to be afraid of it is just an areola with the function of feeding a child; sorry if that is too hard for you to get used to. Evolution did not give women breasts in order to sexually arouse a male, they serve a purpose but society fails to share this progressive view.

The industry of fashion have greatly endorsed this campaign, the aforementioned Alexa Chung along with Lena Dunham and Miley Cyrus have all openly recognised the movement, showing consolidation in the form of wearing the official #FreetheNipple t-shirt, which shows a woman’s chest being censored in a negative light. For the braver followers of this campaign, Free the Nipple also have the ‘tata top’, a bikini top with an image of women’s breasts showing, in order to ‘cheat’ censorship, even an image of a female breast is more acceptable than an inescapable feature of the female body. Tens of thousands of men and women have followed the Instagram and twitter accounts of FreetheNipple, so now when told my scared misogynists to cover up they may well be told to piss off and smell the equality.

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  1. Lee Hampson

    Wow. I’m actually impressed by how consistently terrible this article is. I’m – I’m just amazed. It’s revolutionary! Poorly formed arguments and no creativity or intrigue and the actual theses itself… This – this is spectacularly terrible.

  2. This again

    The problem is that you simply do not understand men or being a man whatsoever. I don’t particularly blame you for this because you cannot be a man, just as I cannot be a woman, but what you can do is listen as I try to explain something that many others have tried to explain before.

    Men and women are different. We have different bodies and we look different, so naturally we are attracted to different things. And one of the things men are universally attracted to is tits (big surprise!).

    Now if you are on a beach and 100 men walked by topless, it probably wouldn’t be a huge deal to you. Women’s attraction to men is only partially physical (and mostly psychological) therefore it would probably be quite easy for you to refrain from looking at the naked chests of those 100 men as they walked by. In contrast, men’s attraction to women is primarily physical whether we like it or not. We all know this is true. It’s why women spend much more time and money on their appearance for example. So if I was on a beach and 100 women walked by topless it would be much, much harder for me not to look at their bare chests. I have an urge to look because I am biologically programmed to be attracted to boobs. I can control whether or not I look at them, but I cannot control my *desire* to look.

    This brings us nicely to your argument about the nipple, which is that “it is just an areola with the function of feeding a child.” Wrong, that may be all it is TO WOMEN, but to men IT IS LIKE A SEXUAL ORGAN. Men do not look at a woman’s nipple and see a device for feeding children, although that is its primary purpose. Men look at it and see something attractive, something appealing, something sexual.

    And I get that a lot of women don’t like that and don’t understand it. They resent the idea that somehow men are able to turn a body part which they regard as purely functional into something sexual. But here’s what you have to understand, MEN DIDN’T CHOOSE THIS. We didn’t sit down and have a men conference one day and say ‘hey, you know tits? Let’s forget about their function and turn them into something sexual that we like looking at and playing with.’ IT’S BIOLOGICAL and INVOLUNTARY. It’s not a question of men sexualising women’s breasts and nipples out of choice, we are designed to find them attractive.

    • Natalie

      Perhaps your argument would hold more weight if every man on earth was attracted to women, and vice versa.

      You’re right in saying that the sexualisation of breasts isn’t so much a personal choice, but it isn’t involuntary – more so a belief we’re conditioned into following. Hell, I’m a woman and I still forget that their only function is to feed babies – we’re raised into believing breasts should be covered up like genitals are, despite them not actually being part of the reproductive system. But to call that sexualisation “biological and involuntary” is ignoring the many men who feel no attraction to women whatsoever, and the many women that are attracted to women who don’t bat an eye at the sight of an exposed nipple.

    • William Philpot

      I agree wholeheartedly, I was reading through this article and feeling exactly what you said. I feel you hit the nail right on the head there. It is something biological.

    • Aryana Sadeghian

      You claim that men’s sexual attraction to women’s breasts is innate but I don’t believe this to be true. I believe that the sexualisation of breasts (and subsequently men’s attraction to them) is a product of society (as with many things such as thin women being seen as ideal, particularly in Western societies), and that men have been conditioned to find them attractive.

      Although I am unable to name any at the present, I am certain there are, for example, tribes in this world where it is the norm for women to walk around topless. And because it is the norm for them to be topless, their breasts are not sexualised.

  3. Jessica Mullett

    This is quite true and I understand men have an abundance of testosterone which pretty much governs their ‘urges’ and ‘desires’ but perhaps if over time women did expose their chests, perhaps men would no longer have this sexualised obsession for breasts and would see it as normal. Only genitals should be covered up. At the end of the day a woman’s breast is fat surrounding a nipple nothing more.

  4. chloe fehler

    Fashion you can call an art because its an extraordinary way of being who you are if men can show there nipples without judgement why cant women?