The female nipple has long been a focus of controversy, and now a short new film directed by Matt Lambert and narrated by Adwoa Aboah, Nipples, seeks to explore why that is.
The three-minute film is both an ode to the nipple and a defiant statement about the way social media in particular both censors and censures this most universal of body parts, but only when they are on a female body. It's the latest in video platform Nowness' Define Beauty series, which aims to unpack 'the politics and prejudices of attraction.'
Model and Gurls Talk founder Adwoa Aboah narrates the film with a powerful poem by Alex Holder that addresses this petty discrimination, saying at one point, "For if anything shows the absurdity of gender politics it's the social media censorship of female nips."
The video features nipples of all sizes, colors and genders in various states - including their arguably most basic and biologically important female function of feeding children - as well as receiving pleasure. Celebrities, models and women whose careers allow them to bare their chests have made visible nipples a popular choice in recent years, and the #FreeTheNipple campaign that took off in 2012 did a lot to bring forward the conversation around the borderline-hysterical censoring of this body part. However, social media accounts that feature female nipples in even the most innocuous ways are still deactivated and reported regularly, while male nipples are allowed to live free in the sunshine and air as they please.
"The shame that's built into digital censorship then starts to permeate the way we exist in the real world," Lambert said of the film. "I have to continue to challenge those boundaries, raising awareness of how absurd things are – sometimes by making absurd examples."
On working with Aboah, he added, "She embodied this mix of intellect meets anti-establishment. She has elegance and irreverence at the same time, which I think was really important for the message."
Aboah's poem concludes, "Who gets to decide whether an image is sexual or art? A Silicon Valley coder, that's who, and his right wing counterpart."