Nipple censorship: Why are we so afraid of the human body?

I have nipples.

As does everyone. So why are we obsessed with hiding them?

Instagram clarified its nipple rule last week: They are a no-no, but breastfeeding is OK, as are mastectomy scars. Facebook is also anti-nip.

Not only do we censor bare-breasted women (in a country where going topless is legal), we pressure them to hide any trace of nipples under their shirts. The nipple hysteria is comically vast.

There are tabloid sightings of celebrity nipples beneath tops (last week it was Rihanna’s). A Fox News affiliate recently blurred the nipples in a Picasso painting for its TV audience.

Pointy nipples cost Anne Hathaway brutal headlines at the 2013 Oscars. Jennifer Aniston’s nipples have a Twitter handle a decade after the end of Friends. And one website offers up the “15 hottest actresses busted with erect nipples.”

All these nipple naysayers are absurd. We allow cleavage, and the outlines of breasts and butts under clothes. But nipples? Gasp!

At work, or even strolling around the city, nipples seem not only rude but somehow naughty. As if nipples = sex.

Meanwhile, hard-nippled or bare-chested men cause no offence, even though, as my sister pointed out, “Women’s nipples are at least used for a purpose.”

I simply don’t get it. They’re only part of the natural shape of the breast. But even that has become vulgar.

We buy mass-market bras that create the taut symmetrical curve of a coconut, perched right under the chin. Any jiggle or droop is shamed. I’m sick of feeling like the only acceptable tit is the one that looks pasted on by a bad plastic surgeon.

And, I never thought I’d long for 2009, but that was when New York Magazine ran an article asking “Are Nipples 2009’s Must-have Fashion Accessory?”. That year, nipples starred on spring runways and Victoria Beckham let hers be perky, causing an uptick in nipple surgeries and the suggestion she was a “nipple role model.”

I could use one of those.

Since my preteen years, I’ve felt like it’s my job to hide them. But this summer, I will not be compressed or embarrassed. I will not strap on a stiff bra and pretend I don’t have nipples just because clothing has gotten thinner with the season.

They’re not indecent, and they’re not there to be ogled.

I’m not some kind of nipple-free Barbie doll.

So, deal with it.

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