Got Nips?

by Olivia Saperstein

If anyone was watching the Emmys on Sunday, you may have noticed Glee star Heather Morris’ nipple slip on the red carpet. 

This is hardly shocking news, as these fashion faux-pas seem to happen constantly in Hollywood. If you search “nip slip” online you can find pictures of various celebrities accidentally flashing some boob. 

What I don’t understand is why human beings are shocked over a little nudity these days. Sure it’s unexpected, sure it isn’t supposed to happen (or is it?), but when did nudity become so taboo?

Human beings started wearing clothing for a number of reasons: to protect themselves from harsh weather and environmental conditions, and to differentiate between tribes and class systems. But it seems that nudity became more sexualized once clothing became a strict social norm. 

So what makes the female nipple so scandalous?

Philosopher and critical theorist Slavoj Zizek would probably explain that the slip of a nip is part of an “inherent transgression,” of the social order,  thus implying that the nipples themselves are so shocking (and pleasing) because of the very fact that they are concealed and socially monitored. Like Anthony Layng states in his article Confronting the Public Nudity Taboo, “We do not insist that women cover their chests because breasts are so alluring; breasts are so alluring because we insist that women cover their chests.” 

Think back to when Janet Jackson revealed her breast at Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime in 2004. The event was so shocking to Americans that Jackson’s career thoroughly suffered, and she faced a lot of public scrutiny. 

Today in America, we live in a society of dualistic opposition. Women are supposed to be sexy, but not too sexy. It seems to be impossible to find a middle ground. Women can walk around wearing as little clothing as possible, but the second a nipple peeks out it’s all over. 

Just ask The Topfree Equal Rights Association (TERA)! They claim that “women deserve equal rights. We do not claim that women or men should go about with bare breasts. That is every individuals decision. We do believe that since men may do so in many situations, women must also be able to at least in the same situations. Without penalty of any kind.” Makes sense to me! Too bad members of TERA have been arrested for topless protesting in recent weeks. 

Perhaps if we were educated about the truths of our bodies at a younger age, they would become less sexualized, and women would not have to “protect themselves” from the “unruly” man that simply cannot restrain his sexual urgencies. I don’t know about you, but I would love to take my shirt off with the same ease a man does on a sweltering summer day. 

Instead of getting sucked into the gossip, I invite readers to use the events of Sundays red carpet to incite a bit of social criticism. 

Picture from:


Žižek, Slavoj


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