The sexist history of censoring nipples is senseless and due to change with better understanding of gender and trans identity.
Look closely at Jason Momoa's nipple. Do you find it offensive? Amber Heard wants to know.
Recently, the Aquaman actress called out Instagram's sexist censorship policies. When promoting her recent feature in Interview Magazine, Heard posted to Instagram a shot from the black and white photo shoot in which she is bare chested underneath a black blazer. After the photo received nearly 750k likes, Instagram took it down as a violation of their "community guidelines." In response, Heard criticized the policy by posting a picture of costar Jason Momoa in an identical pose and semi-nude state.
"In honor of IG's rigorous and equitable Community Guidelines against showing the Female nipple," she captioned, "and since mine enjoyed the brief privilege that's afforded to my male counterparts.. I decided to pay homage by replacing it with a picture that DID meet IG's strict nudity guidelines and such careful gender policies." She also took to her Instagram stories to ask viewers to vote "on which edit you prefer the most." She thanked Instagram and said, "here's to 2019!"
For what it's worth, Instagram's policy acknowledges that nudity can be artistic rather than lewd or pornagraphic; they just don't care. Their policy reads: "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. This includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. It also includes some photos of female nipples, but photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too."
Really, Heard harnessed the elegance of Jason Momoa's right nipple to add to a conversation about double standards and the social shaming of the female body that dates back to the early 19th century. Before then, in the 17th and 18th centuries, toplessness wasn't even taboo. In France and Britain (influenced by French culture), "the latest fashions were cut so low that applying nipple make-up or nipple rouge became a part of some women's beauty routine at the vanity table."
Portrait of Princess of Lamballe by Duplessis, 18th century, ALAMY
Then came the Victorian era, during which Queen Victoria imposed rigid restrictions on how females should express their sexuality—or, more specifically, that they shouldn't. As writer Sara Sheridan recounted for the BBC, "Victoria's childhood had been scarred by her domineering mother, the Duchess of Kent, who left the Queen with a lifelong horror of sexual impropriety."
So, thanks to one queen's childhood trauma, Instagram (along with most media outlets) bans female nipples but condones graphic images of slain hunted animals, pus-filled pimple popping, and "stomach-churning" medical accounts. And, of course, men's nipples.
Portrait of Nell Gwyn, Simon VerelstALAMY
But Heard's sly salute to 2019 also highlights that time is running out for out-dated double standards. Namely, with trans and non-binary individuals expressing themselves more freely and finally being represented in the media, society is becoming more aware that gender is a social construct, and gender identity exists on a spectrum. When Robyn Kanner writes about being a trans woman in media, she admits that, to a degree, she understands Instagram's problem and attempt at a solution: "Its algorithm attempts to track and delete nudity. If that doesn't work, it's up to an Instagram user to see and report it. That's when a 'global team' at Instagram decides if it should stay or go." But, she wrote, "In 2013, when I had just started estrogen, there was a strong possibility that Instagram would have let me upload a picture of my breasts…It's 2018, and my C-cup breasts are too scandalous for Mark Zuckerberg and Kevin Systrom's photo-sharing platform." She concludes, "Instagram has successfully shamed women into believing our nipples and breasts are cursed images. It should reconsider its policy. Pretending nipples aren't family-friendly in 2018 is a massively silly endeavor." In 2019, Instagram is now, more than ever, "failing its community" by shaming female nipples.
Twitter / @Robynkanner
But, with censorship and shame around the human nipple based solely on gender, what could more inclusive gender expression mean for the nipple?
Freedom, according to the Instagram account @genderless_nipples. Since 2016, the account has been publishing user-submitted close-ups of nipples, both male and female, with no indication of what gender (or agender) the body is. Instagram doesn't ban the images, because A) there's no way to tell which one is a female nipple and so a violation of their policy, B) there's nothing innately shameful or lewd about the body part, in the first place, and C) anyone who reports the account in attempt to have the pictures banned is close-minded and trapped in a Puritan mindset that clearly needs to be expanded by watching Fleabag or anything on HBO or any of Laura Dodsworth's celebrated photography projects of 100 penises and vaginas.
So while you freely gaze at the beauty of Jason Momoa's nipple, remember the long history of nipples that came before his and the arbitrary reason you're not allowed to gaze at so many more.
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Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.
Villains always have the best outfits.
From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.
Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com
But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.
Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.
Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.
Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com
Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.
As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.
History of Nazi Chic
For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.
The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.
Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it
Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.
The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com
Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.
Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.
Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com
Nazi Chic in Asia
Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.
A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.
In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.
OF COURSE. i.imgur.com
That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.
In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.
So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?
The answer is not so black and white.
On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.
But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.
Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.
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