#FreetheNipple campaign promotes desexualization of nudity

April 20, 2015

Eleanor Skelton
eskelton@uccs.edu

Oh, social media.

You’ve forever changed the face of activism with campaigns like #StopKony for child soldiers in Africa, #BlackLivesMatter for the Ferguson protests and #WhyILeft / #WhyIStayed tweets for abuse survivors to tell their stories.

And then, Twitter exploded with #FreeTheNipple.

I would like to see nudity become more desexualized.

Americans are more restrictive about nudity than most European countries, where nude beaches are common.

Most students probably don’t know that there are two area hot springs that allow skinny dipping.

Also, sleeping naked is healthier for your skin, it allows the pores to breathe.

In July 2013, I went to UCCS English major Jeff Keele’s production of Paradise Lost at Theater D’Art. I was nervous because I’d been told Adam and Eve would actually be naked.

But the experience was natural. I wasn’t embarrassed. Because the actors were comfortable in their roles, in that vulnerability, I didn’t feel awkward, either.

The #FreeTheNipple campaign began when Adda Þóreyjardóttir Smáradóttir, a 17-year-old college student in Iceland, announced she was organizing a “Free the Nipple” day on campus.

A male follower disagreed, replying with a shirtless selfie.

She answered him with her own topless picture.

That’s how the movement went viral. The internet erupted with topless pictures in a variety of locations, including one in front of the White House.

One of the main arguments that surfaced in the movement reminded their followers that men couldn’t go shirtless through 1930. Eight men were fined for topless bathing at Coney Island in 1934, which prompted a flash mob of shirtless men in Atlantic City, N.J. in 1935.

By the following year, cities began allowing stores to sell swimming trunks.

The protestors were equating this to a similar liberation for women. Others argued that there’s not much biological difference between male and female nipples.

Breastfeeding mothers have recently been criticized, which prompted boob-colored baby hats. Other women donned TaTa bikini tops, which are designed similarly. Both articles of clothing suggest nudity, but their wearers cannot be charged with indecent exposure.

FEMEN, a group of Swedish feminists, protest in front of official buildings either topless or fully nude, sometimes painted. They’re usually dragged away by police, but they do make a statement.

Nudity is vulnerability; it’s the freedom to be your real self. No more hiding behind a mask.