Ask anyone who knows me, and they'll tell you I'm not very conservative when it comes to my ta-tas. I like sheer tops, I like side-boob, and I never wear a bra (unless I absolutely have to). I have no qualms being topless, and would do so in public if it wouldn't land me in jail. But alas, my nips are not allowed the freedom I feel they deserve.
As a woman, the exposure of my breasts is deemed inappropriate, whether I'm skinny dipping, feeding a baby, or just letting the girls out because I'm tired of the inequality they face on a daily basis. Even as a kid I remember feeling confused why, when at the beach, boys could walk around without a shirt but I had to cope with chafing from a bathing suit top. These days I'm still sort of confused, but mostly frustrated. I realize that women's boobs have been sexualized, but why should we (ladies) be penalized for that? It's not my fault if, at the beach, the exposure of my boobs causes a guy to get distracted and trip on a sand castle. Sure, sure guys like breasts for scientific, natural reasons, it's "animalistic" or something. So? Women are attracted to men's pectorals and abs, but you don't see us freaking out when a guy takes off his tee at the pool.
So why - in fucking 2014 - are women denied the right to go topless? I'm looking at you Instagram.
In case you live under a rock and haven't heard about the semi-recent Chelsea Handler boobalicious instagram scandal, I'll recap. About two weeks ago, Handler posted a photo on insta of her riding a horse topless. The photo poked fun at a similar picture taken by Vladmir Puton (yes, shirtless), and she captioned her photo with the words, "Taking this down is sexist. I have every right to prove I have a better body than Putin." Surprise, surprise, Instagram immediately removed the photo. Handler retaliated and reposted it, this time with the caption, "If a man posts photos of his nipples, it's okay, but not a woman? Are we in 1825?" Again, Instagram removed the photo. After a third posting, in which Handler wrote, "If Instagram takes this down again, you're saying Vladimir Putin has more 1st amendment rights than me. Talk to your bosses." They removed the photo.
This whole debacle outraged me. Let me clarify, it's not like I want to post naked photos of myself all over the internet or plaster my boobs to every social media outlet. But I sure as hell want the right to do so should I please. As a body-positive feminist who's come a long way in learning to love her body, I've embraced my shape, my boobs, and all of the things I used to consider flaws. I don't need the world telling me to keep it covered - it's my body, my rights.
People argue that social media sites like Instagram don't allow nudity because children use the app. Okay, I agree that there shouldn't be porn on insta. I shouldn't have to worry about my little cousin accidentally stumbling onto a picture of some sweaty sexual act. Men's privates aren't allowed on Instgram, and neither are vag-jay-jays. That's fine, because at least there's equality and I suppose the line has to be drawn somewhere. It's the breasts and nipples that I take issue with. Are people really worried about their kids seeing boobs on instagram? Because, honestly, that's indicative of a culture that still objectifies and fears the female form. Why not teach our children that women's bodies aren't something to cover up or something to be sexualized? Let's teach our kids that breasts are beautiful, and that they're part of the human body, one that shouldn't elicit shame. If a man can have his nipples out - in public and on social media - women should be able to too. I long for the day when I can have my breasts out and not have to worry about eliciting catcalls, outrage, or any sort of reaction. They're just boobs for goodness sakes!
I'm not sure whether Instagram will ever change their stance on breasts, but I fully support and utilize the hashtag #freethenipple in the hopes that, maybe, it's eliciting even a little bit of change!
I also realize that not everyone is as passionate about this titssue (haha boob joke!), and to some, my ardor for freeing the nip might seem a little weird. But, ultimately, it's not just about nipples. It's about women having rights to their own bodies, it's about the ridiculous portrayal of women's bodies in the media, and it's about freedom of choice. Whether you want to keep your boobs under cover or let em out into the world should be completely up to you. By no means should you unleash your nips if you don't want to! I just ask that my nipples be afforded the same rights as everyone else's, and that they stop being regarded as sexual/inappropriate/disgusting/shameful. Nipples and boobs are magical, they really are, but ultimately they're just one part of a body, which is just one part of an amazing woman who should be able to do with her body as she pleases.