opinion

What comes in pairs, is beloved by babies, but hated by the media? Nipples! In the age of the #MeToo movement and feminism, women are taking ownership over their bodies, including their nipples.  

When females’ breasts begin to grow, they are expected to strap on a bra to hide them. More specifically, girls are expected to hide their nipples. 

As a woman, I can confirm bras can be uncomfortable. After wearing them over and over, day after day, sometimes when you just want to give your breasts a break. People view the protruding outline of women’s nipples as overly sexual. However, there’s no issue with the outline of men’s nipples. 

I tried thinking of a male equivalent of the bra. I tried doing some research. The closest equivalent I could find are jock straps, which are not worn by the majority of men.

Growing up, I can recall occasionally having male teachers wearing shirts that were tighter on the skin, making the outlines of their nipples apparent. 

Yes, I noticed. No, it was not a distraction. No, it did not have an impact on my learning environment. Yes, it begs the question as to why men can get away with showing nipples without batting an eye when women are considered scandalous and provocative for the same thing. 

Last year, school officials gave one 17-year-old girl wearing a baggy shirt without a bra at school Band-Aids to cover up her “distracting” nipples. In an interview with Buzzfeed News the girl’s mom said, “It’s a disgusting example of a double standard and shows how our culture body-shames women. If a boy was staring at her nipples that long why was he not spoken to or punished?”

And this is just talking about when shirts are kept on. 

Instagram, famous for its restrictive laws against showing female nipples in photos, has received backlash for its double standards.  

In its community guidelines, it says, “We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity on Instagram.”

The company said these include everything from genitals, fully nude buttocks, to some photos of female nipples. 

Amber Heard recently called out Instagram’s guidelines for its gender bias. The social media company removed a photo of Heard showing slight nipple cleavage.

In response, Heard posted a picture of her “Aquaman” co-star Jason Momoa photoshopped in her place. The actress called Instagram’s guidelines “rigorous” and “strict.” 

Miley Cyrus recently challenged these guidelines by posting a mirror-selfie wearing a transparent white tank-top in which her nipples shined through. Instagram has not taken the photo down, despite Cyrus’ photo revealing more than Heard’s photo. 

Bras should not be thrown away all together, as some bras augment confidence. They can make you feel ready for the day. For women with larger breasts, going braless may be more uncomfortable than wearing bras. However, no one should be forced to wear bras on the premise that going without one is not socially acceptable. 

Gender equality means nipple equality. 

Lauren Rousseau is a UF journalism sophomore