Nipples are breaking free in fashion, film, and feminism

It’s been just over a year since Meta’s board, after countless debates and discussions, finally decided to unleash the power of freedom on Instagram and Facebook–freedom for nipples, that is.

In a groundbreaking decision on January 17, 2023, the oversight committee–consisting of academics, politicians, and journalists–advised Meta to overhaul its community standards regarding adult nudity and sexual activity. They urged for criteria that respect international human rights standards, marking a pivotal moment over ten years after the historic nurse-in protest at Facebook’s headquarters.

Back then, a group of fearless mothers defiantly breastfed their babies in public to challenge the platform’s ban on showing breasts. Thus began a long and arduous battle for Lactivists, who spent much of the 2000s fighting the misconception that a breast is inherently sexual.

The #FreetheNipple movement

The #FreetheNipple movement burst into the mainstream in 2013, propelled by a clip from Lina Esco’s documentary and embraced by icons like Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and . This feminist battle cry gained momentum, even inspiring artists like Micol Hebron to create stickers of masculine-looking nipples, highlighting the absurdity of Silicon Valley’s puritanical censorship.

Nipple liberation in high fashion

Yet, while social media grappled with nipple liberation, high fashion fearlessly flaunted the very essence of nudity. For Fall/Winter 2024-25, designers from Tom Ford to Saint Laurent boldly embraced sheer fabrics, tantalisingly close to the edge of risque. The runway saw an explosion of nipples–from Gucci to GCDS, Vaquera to Nensi Dojaka–paying homage to Karl Lagerfeld’s iconic minimalist black bikini moment with Stella Tennant in 1996. But haute couture’s journey from the catwalk to the local market is a winding road, not always reaching its destination.

Saint Laurent FW24 via

Nipple liberation in Hollywood

In Hollywood, nipples became the talk of the town reminiscent of Jennifer Aniston’s days in Friends, shrouded in mystery as to why they were always on display. Yet, a new generation of actresses boldly embraces nudity, challenging traditional norms. While nudity was once a complex negotiation on film sets, today, intimacy coordinators offer guidance, and some actresses, like Florence Pugh and Emma Stone, defy conventional standards with fearless performances. These women refuse to be confined by societal expectations, reclaiming their bodies and empowering others to do the same.


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However, the journey to nipple liberation isn’t without its challenges, as seen by Sydney Sweeney, whose very existence challenges conservative ideals of femininity. Despite embodying conventional beauty standards, Sweeney’s unapologetic portrayal of nudity in Euphoria has sparked outrage among some conservatives, highlighting the ongoing struggle for women’s agency over their bodies.

In the end, the battle for nipple liberation transcends social media platforms and fashion runways. It’s a fight for women’s autonomy and self-expression, a testament to the power of resilience and defiance in the face of oppression.

As women continue to reclaim their bodies and rewrite the narrative, one nipple at a time, the future looks increasingly bright for the champions of freedom and equality.

This article was syndicated from Marie Claire Italy
Translated and adapted by Praise Vandeh, Marie Claire Nigeria Content Writer


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