Free the Nipple: 20 Photos Protesting Femme Censorship

Free the Nipple: 20 Photos Protesting Femme Censorship

For years, an ongoing debate has raged around community guidelines on social media banning forms of nudity. The imbalance has disproportionately affected women, femmes, and non-binary people who are often specifically prohibited from posting photos where their nipples are showing. Today, Format, a conceptual photography platform and website builder, launched the aptly-titled Terms & Conditions, a new photo-based project aimed at dissecting that form of gender-based censorship.

The project pulls together contributions from 49 photographers, varying in age, geographical location, practice form, and gender, who celebrate the ethically, racially, and size-diverse femme form in its uncensored, uninhibited state. It serves as an apt protest of censored guidelines, including the often-protested zero-tolerance nudity clause enforced on Instagram, despite artistic merit.

Instagram's definitions of female nudity "includes some photos of female nipples," although "photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed." Artistic or creative renderings of the nude female body seem to contradict the part of Instagram's regulations that says "nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too." The femme body has long been hyper-sexualized (and commodified) by patriarchal society, which definitely plays a role in how its nude form is viewed — especially on platforms like Instagram.

"Our bodies are ours, and they are beautiful for ourselves. They should be equally celebrated regardless of gender."

Harley Weir, Michael Bailey-Gates, Richie Shazam, Mayan Toledano, Cameron Lee Phan, and David Uzochukwu, are just a few contributing photographers and artists who all share powerful statements on why uniform representation of the human body on social media is necessary to advance gender equality. A general consensus is best summed up by Bailey-Gates, who offers that social media censorship "says that nipples are offensive, but only on a femme body. It's a way of shaming a person." And as Phan says, "Our bodies are ours, and they are beautiful for ourselves. They should be equally celebrated regardless of gender." Kayee Kiu simply reminds us that "we are fearless."

De-stigmatize yourself by clicking through the gallery, below. Discover the full Terms & Conditions project on Format, here.

Anastasia Akimova

Photography: Anastasia Akimova

"In modern society, there is no place for gender censorship. This is a question of equality: why are men allowed and women not allowed to show their bodies? The female breast is not a matter of vulgarity or indecency; it's a part of the human body, like a hand or a leg. As an artist, I am particularly insulted by Instagram's ban on the publication of female nipples because it means I have to mutilate my photos."

Photography: Nimrod Mendoza