Advertising copywriter Lizzie Hutchison discusses the new drive to bring some equality to nipple baring, but suggests that the campaign is actually quite selfish. When should Christians weigh in?
Nipples. Such a fun word to say. Controversial little fellas though - which is surprising, since we’ve all got ‘em. Some people even have three (I’m basing this exclusively off Chandler Bing and one of my pals who recently disclosed that she’s got more than her fair share.) Anyway, Khloe Kardashian is the latest celebrity to ‘free the nipple’ in her recent insta post, supporting the campaign that suggests it’s unfair for men to be topless if women can’t. So why are men’s and women’s nips treated so differently? And why should we care as Christians?
Now, I’m no expert on gender equality, but it seems to me that it’s more useful to acknowledge our dissimilitude, and work on solutions that bring us to a fairer place, rather than simply pretend we’re all the same. ‘Equal but different’ as many preachers would say. One of the highlights of being a woman is that we have more erogenous zones. And frankly, given the gender pay gap is still alive and well, I’ll take it.
So why can’t we acknowledge that womens’ nipples have a duality - they are both attractive to the opposite sex and also able to feed babies?
I’ve not conducted a huge amount of research, but I’ve yet to meet the woman who’s incredibly turned on by the male nipple. (If you’re out there - good on ya hun). Whereas certainly the opposite is true for men. So why can’t we acknowledge that womens’ nipples have a duality - they are both attractive to the opposite sex and also able to feed babies? To me, it feels limiting to reduce them to just baby fuelers. And by pretending they’re not exciting to men and forcing them to be comfortable with their exposure, just seems a bit of a bold move.
What would Jesus think of the ‘free the nipple’ campaign? It’s hard to say as there’s no explicit guidance in the Bible, but whilst I’m sure he was all for body positivity; Psalm 139 acknowledges that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, I can’t imagine he’d be thrilled at the act of forcing others to see parts of you that could make them uncomfortable. I know how visually stimulated men are, and I don’t think it’s fair to bombard them with unhelpful material. Personally, I think it’s quite a selfish campaign, focusing more on the right to bare, rather than the right to not want to stare.
I know how visually stimulated men are, and I don’t think it’s fair to bombard them with unhelpful material.
I know, surprising for someone who’s not famous for being a modest dresser. I still endorse wearing clothes that make you feel fabulous, and don’t think anyone should be having heart failure over a miniskirt or smidge of cleavage. (Although for the sake of some sort of intrigue, I try not to do both at the same time.) Except in the summer when it’s scorching and frankly good luck if you see me in anything more than a bikini.
Read more on modesty
Either way, in Proverbs 31 it’s evident that the outward appearance is still less important than what’s going on inside. ‘Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.’ So perhaps we should focus on what it would look like if we bared our hearts, not our breasts. Thankfully, none of this is a problem in the current weather. Far too nippy.