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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Like the "Rocky steps" in Philadelphia and the horrible "Friends" apartment building in the West Village, the "Joker stairs" are becoming a tourist attraction.
On Google Maps, the Bronx staircase at 167th Street is now labeled "Joker Stairs."
The staircase is the location of a crucial scene in Todd Phillips' Joker, in which Joaquin Phoenix embodies Arthur Fleck's transformation from alienated comedian to violent misanthrope. While the film's themes have resulted in its treatment as both a cult classic and dangerous incel propaganda, fans are visiting the site to recreate the Joker's dance down the steps for Instagram. Or, if you take Fox News' word, "Instagrammers risk getting 'robbed' recreating 'Joker' scene: 'The Bronx is not a friendly place.'"
Like the "Rocky steps" in Philadelphia and the horrible "Friends" apartment building in the West Village, the stairs are becoming a tourist attraction. And like all iconic film destinations, locals hate the place and each and every tourist who flocks to it. Bronx locals have taken to Twitter to say, "Please, if you're reading this and you're not from around here (or ever been to the Bronx, Yankee stadium does not count) PLEASE DO NOT COME HERE. Thanks, Bronx Resident."
It’s really called the Joker Stairs on google now (I just searched it). Please, if you’re reading this and you’re… https://t.co/NXW84YmlBj— Maybe: Candy (@Maybe: Candy)1571111063.0
Another Bronx native drew the attention of Fox News with the comment: "Those awful stairs on 167 are now renamed 'the joker stairs' so I [sic] just want to remind everyone that the Bronx [sic] is not a friendly place for tourist attractions you will get robbed beloved."
those awful stairs on 167 are now renamed “the joker stairs” so i just want to remind everyone that the bronx is no… https://t.co/bpKgjU7s40— bella goth (@bella goth)1571137060.0
Located in the South Bronx, the staircase is as unsightly and unkempt as most of the oldest New York neighborhoods are, hence its selection for Joker's dark and gritty Gotham aesthetic. But as for its safety, it's also on par with other old New York neighborhoods that have been touched by gentrification's renovations but not its sanitizing effects on public safety. Namely, the crime rates in the South Bronx are very similar to those of East Brooklyn, which are actually lower than those of Greenwich Village, and they're only slightly higher than those in Jackson Heights.
But more importantly, as much as the media and Fox News likes to depict the Bronx (and also Brooklyn, before the hipsters took it over) as a center of crime, the fact is that the 10 murder capitals of New York State are all upstate. So while the Bronx has been named New York's "unhealthiest county" in terms of "quality of life, poor physical health, mental health, smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity" for the last seven years, it's clearly the perfect setting for Joaquin Phoenix's mental breakdown while still being safer than upstate, NY.
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Celebrities on Instagram—as in life, unfortunately—seem to get away with a hell of a lot of social-norm breaking and generally unusual behavior.
Jennifer Aniston is responsible for '90s-defining bad hair, redefining a "break" from a relationship, and the world record for accumulating the most Instagram followers in the fastest amount of time.
After creating her account, the 50-year-old actress gained 1 million followers within 5 hours and 16 minutes. (The previous record was held by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, who lost the completely meaningless honor by just 29 minutes). The Friends actress has always been an enigma on social media, despite being America's sweetheart for much of her career. Her first post was a typical 50-year-old's photo, blurry and awkwardly angled for a group photo of all her Friends costars. The caption read, "And now we're Instagram FRIENDS too. HI INSTAGRAM." Mashable applauded the actress' new social media strategy: "Jennifer Aniston (or at least Aniston and the people working with her on social media) has pretty much nailed the Instagram game."
Certainly, with three posts and nearly 14 million followers, Aniston is on her way to becoming one of the most followed celebrities on Instagram. Aside from being named "the worst social media for mental health," Instagram does work like a game, in that one has to follow unspoken rules to succeed, you're in competition with and compared to every other user, and you hope to show some grace and intelligence in your decisions.
But celebrities on Instagram—as in life, unfortunately—seem to get away with a hell of a lot of social-norm breaking and generally unusual behavior. From posting bad selfies and oversharing to following 0 people but accumulating millions of followers, these are the strangest celebrity habits on Instagram.
Following 0 People
Aside from the fact that most high profile figures don't manage their own Instagram accounts, it's such a flex to follow no one while being one of the most followed people on the platform. See, for example, Taylor Swift: 122 million followers. Following: 0.
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