If Instagram censorship was up to us you’d be forced to scroll though 50 identical airplane wings every time you the #cleaneating hashtag. (20 if you did it ironically.) But alas, it doesn’t, and #paleo, #YOLO, and even #aftersex are all fair game hashtags, showing a #nipple will get your photos deleted — or even kicked off the platform entirely.
Rihanna is the latest to feel effect of Instagram’s equality problem. The singer yesterday posted topless photos from a recent shoot for shirt-adverse men’s magazine Lui, only hours after posting some also-topless photos from her recent Vogue Brasil cover shoot. She’s not going to be too adversely affected by having her photos deleted. They’re all over Tumblr and Twitter (both totally down with the nipple.) Even more so now thanks to the free publicity caused by the deleting and by her own clever #iheartrihanna hasthtag.
But Rih isn’t the only one to be punished for Instagram’s nipplephobia. Nipples are having a veritable moment in fashion that goes beyond galleries of sideboobs and nip slips. And since Instagram is now the way us non-elites now first see basically everything, particularly magazine covers and new seasonal collections, there’s going to be some conflict. Kendall Jenner couldn’t share her runway debut at Marc Jacobs‘ Fall 2014 show because there were nipples involved. Fashion plate Michelle Harper has been punished twice, once for posting an artsy topless Numéro editorial and again in February for ‘gramming her sheer #OOTD at Fashion Week.
And the censorship issue goes beyond fashion too. Whether the sheer shirt “trend” will extend to the streets next season remains to be seen — like bedazzled Tevas, it leaves even FRowers on the fence. But the right to bare is sometimes more about forgoing clothes entirely than following trends. “It sucks that I can’t go to a beach and be topless,” complains filmmaker Lina Esco in the trailer from her soon-to-be-released film Free the Nipple. If you’ve ever suffered through 100 degrees and 90% humidity in a New York summer and an underwire bra, you can’t say the point’s not valid. Here’s how others have chimed in on the debate and defended the nipple.
“I think it’s very strange,” Anja told Style.com after her erotic magazine, 25, was kicked off the social media platform in February. One of the photos it posted was from Anthony Vaccarello’s transparent Fall ’14 finale look, which Rubik wore on the runway. “It makes us think that we should have some kind of complex about our bodies. It sends the message that our bodies are unnatural and not beautiful, and I think women need to fight this. Talking about sex and the naked body has become such a taboo, and that’s when people start having problems—when they can’t be open about it. We need to be proud of our bodies. We create all these really fake ideals of beauty nowadays with images of women that are physically altered, and women are trying to attain these insane, unrealistic ideals. But we show a natural woman naked and that’s an issue? I don’t understand it.”
“Well, she realizes it isn’t just about double standards — it’s about nudity compared to violence,” Lina told Oyster magazine about her upcoming Free the Nipple film. “We allow so much violence on television, but a nipple in public is meant to be offensive?… what’s so ironic is that I’m now facing these kinds of problems in real life — you know, we’ve been taken off Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.”
Miley has been one of the biggest, and definitely the most high profile, supporter of Lina’s efforts. “Without her I wouldn’t be sitting in front of you right now,” Lina told the Huffington Post.
“My @sarahsophief feeding the brand new Dusty. I made the flower crown and she added the flower censor. Wish she didn’t have to cuz the nipple is dope. Instagram, get down with the nipple.” Dunham also faces critics of non-sexualized female nudity almost every time a new episode of Girls airs.
Khloe was quick to jump to her younger sister’s defense when haters hated on her Fall 2014 Marc Jacobs runway look — haters including Instagram, who deleted it. “Its a fashion show. She doesn’t choose!” she tweeted. “She’s too dope for you 2 understand!” And if Bruiser Jenner can get over it, why should anyone else care? People should be far more offended by that giant nose ring she wore to Coachella.
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