Free The Nipple

Fashion icon Cara Delevingne
Fashion icon Cara Delevingne

Thank goodness the world is changing. Heard of the Free the Nipple campaign?

Free The Nipple is "a film, an equality movement, and a mission to empower women across the world." The trending topic has sparked a global dialogue that is generating a groundswell. It's all the more relevant to our blog because high fashion model Cara Delevingne recently posted a topless photo on instagram to protest its censorship policy.

A picture really is worth a thousand words, but that's also what blogs are for! When you think about what this photo suggests, the issue seems very clear and embarrassingly simple.

It raises the question: there is in fact a double standard; why does it exist?

The best answer I've heard (in terms of not sounding like complete nonsense), is that women's breasts are objects of sexual attraction and are covered to keep society (and men) civilized, or at least more tame.

But I could imagine that argument being taken a step further. Faces are objects of sexual attraction. Should we cover women's faces to keep society (and men) civilized?

I am not saying women should or should not walk around topless, I'm saying they should have the same choices men do when it comes to their chests. I can't think of any good reason the double standard should exist (or be perpetuated by any American legal system). It seems like a delusional stigma leftover from previous culture.

If women were allowed to walk around topless (as freely as men), they would feel less ashamed and more secure in their bodies. I dare say it would become more normal, and less weird to be open and comfortable.

As the creators of the satirical Tata top said regarding Instragram's policies, "By censoring an image of a woman’s chest and not a man’s it doesn’t end with removing that image from your platform."

“Whether you like it or not you are confirming that YES, a woman’s nipples are indecent and are something that needs to be kept covered. You are endorsing that train of thought. You take yourself out of the business of providing a forum for free thinking and place yourself in the position of deciding what is immoral and what isn’t.”

Instagram's strict censorship policy on female toplessness reflects its attempt to support a perceived American "family friendly" taboo. The reality is there seems to be some correlation between our almost stubborn prudishness (compared to parts of Europe) and female physical security.

Upon hearing of Free the Nipple, Jules's father made a joke that our generation is culturally inept, focused on contrived reality shows and our genitalia, incapable of talking about (or being concerned with anything else important in the world). Of course this made us laugh.

What Jules might have said in other circumstances, is we don't think our generation is necessarily culturally inept. Media and sources of information have fragmented, and the cultural market has vastly expanded with the internet since he was our age. It is timely expensive to stay current with all that goes on in the world (dare I say actually impossible). One might say some things are more (or should be more) important, and we would say it's extremely hard to tell with so many different people value-judging many affairs and topics from a postmodern perspective.

When I think about what's important, the signal versus the noise, I think about the potential longevity of the human race. Richard Dawkins says the next 100 years of human history will be the most dangerous yet. Can we solve a lot of our current worldly problems and come together as a global civilization, united by thought? Or will we clash as technology rapidly develops making it easier to destroy ourselves if we don't cooperate? I happen to be an optimist. I think we are capable of solving all our current problems (then finding new problems to solve–there will always be problems). That's how progress works. I have faith in science, and I have faith in humanity's ability to use it.

I think the #freethenipple movement is worthy of our attention because it is battling an archaic sense of right and wrong. Our laws and customs reflect an ethical system to which we are expected to tune our moral compasses– or at the very least, our behavior. I think a freer sense of ourselves is a step towards the direction of comfort, open-mindedness, and stable compassion.

Comfort, because women will feel less shame and more secure in their bodies. Open-mindedness, because for a cultural norm to change, open minds of people are required to weigh information and adjust accordingly. Stable compassion, because as cliché as it may sound, equality of rights, secure sense of self, and open-mindedness can bring people closer together– and that I believe is part of the recipe to bring about a united civilization.

I don't mean to sound sensationalist. As Lao Tzu said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." I think, how people think and feel about certain things will help determine if we can survive Dawkins' dreaded century.

Besides Cara Delevingne, the movement has the celebrity support of Russel Simmons, Leena Dunham, Miley Cyrus, Scout Willis, Rihanna, and Caitlin Stasey, among many others.

Of course, the movement has our support as well. Join the evolution!