In Defence of Nipples

Earlier this week, Facebook removed an image from my page because it didn’t follow the Facebook Community Standards. It was a beautiful photograph of Native American tribal women in their traditional summer costume from 1870s signifying historic cultural values. However, the customs and traditions of the tribal women do not comply with present day’s modesty norms which were originally introduced by white folks of Western society. It is unfortunate that the Native American tribe’s traditions and customs will not be tolerated by Facebook.

This is a classic case of cultural hegemony where a powerful class imposes or manipulates the traditions and customs of a society that’s culturally different from theirs.

Image of Native American Women in summer dress, removed by Facebook.

Image of Native American Women in summer dress, removed by Facebook.

Modesty & nudity norms exist to avoid indecency. Primitive humans covered the sacro-pubic region of the body to avoid the well-marked horror of causing disgust to others. As seen in art & clothing history, ancient women naturally flaunted their breasts and nipples were never associated with shame till religion influenced in shaping the patriarchal society of late Greco-Romans. Those were times when women of Western society were dictated to cover even their hair & neck. In contrast, women in Asia-Pacific, Native American and African societies naturally left their upper bodies uncovered till the influx of Christian missionaries and Islamic invasions in medieval to modern history. Read more about evolution of nudity norms for detailed understanding of how female nipples became a sign of indecency with time.

In India, women predominantly started covering nipples only after European invasion in contemporary history. Unaware of our own clothing history, the modern Indian society takes offence at the sight of nipples like no other generation in India’s history. It takes basic human intelligence to understand how ridiculously biased it is when Facebook thinks nipples are NUDE when they don’t belong to DUDE. I put together this look which aims to rip and tear apart the existing norms to provide an alternative outlook and perspective.

Purushu Arie Liberate All Nipples

The interpretation is on your face – right signifies the male, left signifies the female.

Right has a choice which left does not and that’s just not right.

Some people want to free the nipple, others want it covered…. and amigo, it don’t matter if you’re girl or guy. Let’s voice our opinion aloud to cut loose from primitive patriarchal norms and liberate all nipples irrespective of gender. It’s about freedom from from gender bias. It’s about comfort. And, most importantly, its about personal choice.

Purushu Arie Gender Neutral Street Style

This gender neutral look comprises of destructed convertible white shirt and a lungi, designed & hand-stitched by myself. The lungi itself is a victim of cultural bias. The tubular lower garment of South Indian men is banned in most night clubs in Chennai and it’s bizarre to ban your own traditions in favour of modern Western imports. Maybe this is my attempt to play around  with the aesthetics and give a high-fashion makeover to lungi with deconstruction and reconstruction exploration techniques. I wear what I design. I design what I am. I am an artist. Fashion is my artistic expression. If you’re watching closely, you know what I have to say.

Purushu Arie Lungi Street Style

Lungi – Designed by Purushu Arie

Photography – KumAr Photography

According to many photo-sharing platforms like Facebook & Instagram, not all nipples deserve to be freed depending upon gender. Hence I wish to repost the photo of Native American women with my own male nipples… because according to Facebook male nipples are not nude, right?


1 Comment
  • rebecca schultz
    August 1, 2017

    I love this article and the picture is beautiful. I am very white (from my Irish, German, Italian, and overall European descent), however, I am also of Blackfoot and Choctaw descent, and this photo of native american women is beautiful. I wish it weren’t still so secretly misogynistic in modern society. I LOVE how Chelsea Handler will take off her top so carelessly and randomly to show that if it were a man, no one would have thought anything of it. And honestly, if women weren’t treated like primarily sexual beings, there would be no problem with us showing our nipples. I love my breasts, and I wish I didn’t have to worry about there being such commotion if I wanted to take my top off. I truly believe that the moment we liberate our bodies from being controlled and covered, we lower the amount of perversion among us. And just like you said, it isn’t fair that we allow men to expose their nipples without shame while we allow women to show off the ‘fleshy part’, and it is totally illogical.

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