The #freethenipple campaign has found numerous famous supporters. Miley Cyrus, Chrissy Teigen, Lena Dunham and many others have voiced their support in lifting the censorship regarding the exposure of female breasts. Supermodel Naomi Campbell was the latest celebrity to join that club and posted a topless picture on Instagram, which was taken down within 24 hours, due to their policy regarding nudity.
However, #freethenipple should represent so much more than the right to show bare breasts. It should spark a discussion about nudity in general and how it’s perceived in our culture.
The real question is: How did it happen that some cultures have labeled the sight of a naked body as something dirty?
Is it really so much worse to see a topless woman on a beach than someone wearing a bikini top that has merely the size of a stamp, barely covering the nipple area? I personally think the latter is a much naughtier tease.
Same goes for TV. It makes very little sense to look at two characters on a TV show who just had [simulated] sex in a scene and after they’re done, the woman gets up to go to the bathroom with a whole set of sheets wrapped around her. We all know that this never happens in real life. Therefore, showing nudity in such a situation would make sense. On the other hand, if nudity is used in a scene for no other reason than showing a naked body, it’s wouldn’t make any sense and wouldn’t be necessary. I think there is a time and place for everything; it’s the circumstances that matter and common sense.
In several African countries, such as Namibia and Ethiopia women and men are commonly topless, and no one makes a big deal out of it. In Europe, there are many beaches and public swimming pools with topless women and since it’s nothing out of the ordinary, you don’t see people staring at bare breasts any more than people would do, when they find someone attractive who is completely clothed. In European shower gel commercials, for instance, they show naked bodies and no one perceives it as something sexual or shocking, because it is only natural to be naked when you take a shower. Nudity only becomes a big deal when a society has labeled it a taboo.
We were born naked and there shouldn’t be anything wrong with the sight of a naked body. I’m not advocating to parade around naked for shock value, but we shouldn’t feel so offended if people choose not to wear clothes under appropriate circumstances.
In fact, we have become so paranoid that we feel it’s something immoral if our children see us naked. I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t wear clothes at home but it gives children a very distorted view of life, if it’s such a shocker to see someone unclothed. I think it’s this very attitude that teaches a child that being naked is solely associated with sex, and it insinuates that there’s something wrong with our bodies. When little children examine themselves, there’s absolutely nothing wrong in their behavior. They look at their bodies as part of discovering life until we point out to them that they’re doing something inappropriate.
Any time something is considered a taboo, it only sparks more curiosity. Only if something is forbidden, it triggers the urge in some to use it to push buttons. Remember the scandal around Janet Jackson and her Superbowl performance, when her nipple got exposed? The sight of a plain nipple shouldn’t create such uproar. Ultimately, it’s still just part of the human body and a stunt like this can only draw so much attention because of our questionable point of view. I even dare to say that this “malfunction” wouldn’t have taken place under different circumstances. It’s a textbook example for using a taboo to stir up attention because it was very predictable that it would create the kind of outrage that it did.
If we would stop making nudity such a big deal, and just see it as part of life, we would have a society with a much healthier body image. People would have a better understanding of their issues (in regards to suppression, sexuality, self-acceptance as well as self-esteem) and we wouldn’t have so many people who are so self-conscious in regards to how they feel about their bodies.