The Nipple Question
in this look –
Purificación García trousers,
Kat Maconie mules
CREATIVE DIRECTION, STYLING & WORDS Adriana Gastélum PHOTOGRAPHY Jorge Mercado ____________________________
The first time I was conscious of my breasts was when I was only 10-years-old, I was playing with my younger brother in our room while my mom was watching the television. Without either of us noticing my pre-puberty situation (which in my case, started at a fairly early age) we were playing and tumbling around the bed, probably imagining one of us was Spider Man and the other was the villain. Between laps and laughs, my brother brushed his knees against my nipples and my mother put a stop to our innocent game, delegating my responsibilities as the older sister and my female gender and what I had to protect from now on. A few days later, we went to buy my first bra.
It’s funny to think that sexuality is defined by everyone at around the same age, and it comes when we’re completely unaware that our tastes, actions, what we wear, what we can or cannot say, are all defined in a single instant. That first time I was aware of my gender as a whole I still had some baby teeth and, at the same time, I was forced to define a line between the person I could be and the asexual image I had of myself until I turned 10-years-old, even though my brother had nipples too. In my head nothing made sense, probably this type of confusion makes it the most complicated age in a person’s life (although I have my doubts, adult life is pretty tricky and lasts for way longer).
I stuck to the rules. I wore bras day and night (yes, because some friend told me my breasts would get bigger if I wore a bra by night too … as you can see perfectly in the photos, it was not true), deep down I hated them and I knew all my friends also hated their pastel pink bras. There wasn’t a more comforting feeling than getting home, remove your bra at the speed of light and scratch the marks you definitely had from having worn it for more than you can tolerate. It was a universal truth to my 12-year-old friends and I, my mother of 36 and my grandmother of 54.
in this photo –
Zara collar shirt,
Cinq a Sept trousers
I was embarrassed of my breasts. I was ashamed that they were pointy, small, big for my age, too low, too tall, too pink or no pink at all. I had no references to realize that my nipples were normal. I was unable to separate my breasts from their sexual and mammary function and see them as a part of my body, just like I see my sunken navel or the crooked fingers of my feet with the ease with which I see a door. I came to find the process of buying bras a torture adorned with lace and bows, being aware that the size of my problem was much smaller than of others. All this happened ‘til I moved to Europe.
Well, yes, Europe and some intrapersonal maturity. After reading bras actually diminish the firmness of our breasts, I moved my bra collection directly to the trash with the glee of a little girl at Christmas and changed them for bralettes. – “No more chest stabs by a disjointed metal rod” – I thought, as if I had won the most anfractuous battle of my life.
No, it’s not true that #freethenipple is the issue that should interest us the most as feminists, but when small battles are won we are able to create guidelines for longer, broader paths that open up possibilities that didn’t exist before. That is the biggest battle.
in this photo –
C/MEO Collective belt,
Zara pearl necklace
Dear reader, this post is not trying to seduce you for you to go out topless, hoping that you automatically feel comfortable and sheltered under the law of the State of New York that allows women to go with their breasts uncovered around the city just like the male gender does it. We don’t all live in New York, and I don’t expect you to change the privacy of your body by ideologies that are possibly outside of your moral, social or religious values. But asking ourselves the following questions is more than valid: Are we legitimately censoring female nipples just for their ability to produce breast milk? And, the body of a woman can only be limited to being seen as sexual or maternal?
I firmly believe that this battle is being won day-by-day and the proof is that I can show you these pictures without feeling embarrassed, after being inspired by women around me, women I see on Instagram* subtly mocking the prohibition of the female nipple, women at the beach sunbathing topless regardless of the size of their breasts, women laughing at double standards and others who feel so comfortable in their own skin that they don’t need to explain why they don’t wear a bra, women who do not let any social channel, rod, emotion or beauty standard make them believe their nipples should be censored as if they were firearms.
I’m not expecting to make a momentous change, I do hope that you look at your bra’s drawer with contempt and fervently desire to set it on fire (and you should, metaphorically), while also look yourself in the mirror and start questioning yourself whether your breasts really need the special attention that everyone has given them since you reached puberty. My final question lies in: Should we call it #freethenipple or should we agree to #freetheFEMALEnipple?