Nipples are a very sensitive argument. Men seems to be sexualising nipples, while women are almost scared of them. Show a ludicrously sexual pose, and everything is fine, but show nipples and you sparkle a debate. One of my biggest question marks is not the reaction to nipples in general, but reaction women have towards their own nipple.
I have tried to understand something deeper: can a boudoir photograph with the nipples visible be elegant? Can a photo revealing these vilified body parts maintain that “je ne sais quoi” that keeps the image in the class sphere, without being associated to something sexual or inherently wrong.
Moreover, why should women be ashamed of their nipples? We discussed Gender Equality last week, and this is one of the difference that are there to shame women. For a man is absolutely acceptable be be bare chested, but if a woman tries the same… Why?
Us and Nipples
I would not be writing this post if our observation on the rapport some women have with their nipples were on an isolated case. If you are one of our fabulous clients and you feel like I am writing to you, you are not alone. Many women we have spoken to, and many we have photographed, did not want their nipple visible. Let me remind you that all our photographs are private, and are not shared or published without an expressed consent. This issue with nipples hit us though. Why is there a fear of showing such natural (and harmless) part of their bodies? Is this about perception, or is this linked to the question if visible nipple in a photo can still be elegant?
The elegance of nipples
The question, rhetorical in my opinion, is if photographs with nipples visible, can be elegant. To me the answer is “of course yes”. There is nothing to be ashamed in showing a pair of nipple, and it is not nudity that makes an image vulgar. Vulgarity is shown through the message that an image delivers.
Sexualising a woman is not elegant, images that objectify women are not elegant, but nudity in itself? Nudity is natural, and looking back at amazing piece of art, from paintings to sculptures, we see how nudity and nipple can be elegant.
Elegance is in how a body is captured. Elegance is about the message that the photo sends out. Elegance is not in some bare nipple visible.
Europe VS America
Few years ago, I could have easily drawn a line between Americans‘ and Europeans‘ approach to nipples. Americans were almost afraid of them; they dealt with the presence of nipple in a boudoir photo as an unacceptable obscenity. Europeans were much more open to showing a nipple without thinking of them in a negative way. In these years, though, it seems that the perception is changed a bit. Part of this European attitude has subsided, moving closer to the approach from over the pond.
This trend is barely visible, and I can say that part of it is because of the regulations over social media, that comes from the USA. Show a live shooting with blood all over, and you are fine, but a nipple… ohhh show nipples and you are in trouble!
The gender inequality created scared women
Who is in charge of dictating what is acceptable online (and in our society in general) and what is not? Who are the big names that defines that nipples are obscene? They are men, which are telling us that it is shameful to be a woman and walk bare chested. This is just ridiculous. What makes me feel bad, is the fact that there is a strong inequality behind male and female nipples. We can see bare chested men everywhere, but female nipples are outrageous.
The reason is that men associated female breasts and nipple to something exclusively sexual. Yes, I am pointing the finger over men, they are the ones that make the rules. I am a man, and I am the first to say that we caused this nipple-gate with our hyper-sexualised culture, we are the ones who are creating more gender inequality and psychological issues in women. And for what? Nipple? Seriously? There are so many more important themes to discuss, that the equality in which the world see male and female nipples should be done and dusted!
Can we please change this? Can we understand that it is not nudity that remove elegance from a photo? It is not nipples to cause vulgarity: they are natural!