COMMENT: Get over Bella Hadid’s nipples (and nipples in general)


This week, Bella Hadid stepped out at the Dior ball wearing a completely sheer dress that showed her nipples.

Predictably, the world fell into apparent disarray at the sight of them (God forbid) with headlines blasting "Bella Hadid flashes nipples," "Bella Hadid nipple show," and (most bizarrely), "Bella Hadid's nipples still aren't over that Selena Gomez thing."

She attended the Couture Week event with fellow nipple-freeing pal Kendall Jenner, yet even with the most popular of social media stars and models flouting the unwritten rule of never letting the nip slip, it's still seen as a faux pas. 

Why, as a society, aren't we over female nipples? After all, we see them plastered on the glamour pull-outs in teenage boy's bedrooms, on beaches, on benches seating breast feeding mums and on couture runways, so why are they still such an inflammatory novelty? 

As a feminist, the fact that women's nipples are so often censored is more of an irksome inequality rather than a big, Repeal the 8th-style issue, but it's still an example of how women are made to feel ashamed of their sexuality rather than being encouraged to own it. 

The fact that the female nipple offends is bizarre, after all it is just a small pigmented circle on the chest that marks the spot of lactation, if you really break it down to its true utilitarian purpose.

It's the suggestiveness that society assigns to nipples that's the problem. 

And men have them too, obviously, a point that Instagram page Genderless Nipples proved by uploading close ups of both male and female nipples to see which would be censored (spoiler alert, no one can tell the difference).

People may argue that it is not the nipple itself that is the issue, but the overall breast it is attached to. 

One has to call bull**** on that too, as after all, underboob and women flaunting their breasts in nipple pasties is rarely shamed or censored. 

Even the outline of a nipple, or the suggestion of bralessness under a T-shirt is hyper sexualised and shamed, as we saw when world class athlete Serena Williams was shamed for her "distracting" nipples on the tennis court during Wimbledon 2016.

Because after she won her 7th Wimbledon title she was planning on gyrating, NSFW style, on the asphalt.


A photo posted by Daisy Keens (@pieandfash) on

Instagram also seems to take issue with female nipples, swatting them down each time they appear like they're a personal pet peeve of the social media site. 

Women are regularly excluded from the site for showing a sliver of areola, and the FreetheNipple hashtag is rife with censorship. 

Celebrities like Chrissy Tiegan, Miley Cyrus and Scout Willis have all been silenced for posting a suggestion of a nip.

Even within the fashion industry, where nudity is seen as tasteful and artistic, only small breasts peep coyly through swathes of fabric (like Bella's) while anything over a B-cup is considered pornographic. 

Back in the 1930s, men's nipples were seen as taboo too, but a few protests and some brief news coverage later, 1936 rolled around and men were free to present their pectorals in public without any grievances.

81 years later, women still have not managed to detangle their nipples (ouch) from the elaborately crocheted mess that is sexualisation in society. 

While there is no argument to be made for universal, mandatory bralessness, a departure from the slut-shaming and scandalization of female breasts would be nice for a change.