Fashion freed the nipple centuries ago.  When will the rest of the world recover?

Fashion freed the nipple centuries ago. When will the rest of the world recover?

Fashion freed the nipple centuries ago.  When will the rest of the world recover?

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On the same day that Florence Pugh wore the transparent pink Valentino Barbiecore dress at the historic brand’s couture show in Rome this summer, with her breasts on display through the diaphanous layers of tulle, Elon Musk terminated his contract for the buying Twitter, abortion rights activists prepared to march to the White House, and the BA.5 sub-variant was making its way around the world.

You wouldn’t have known that from our feeds: coarse, misogynistic comments about the Don’t worry honey the nipples of the stars have dominated our timelines. This reaction was not surprising; Pugh also anticipated the backlash, saying in an Instagram post two days later, “When I wore that amazing Valentino dress I knew there was no way there wouldn’t be a comment on it,” he wrote. “What has been interesting to observe and witness is how easy it is for men to completely destroy a woman’s body, publicly, with pride, for all to see.”

Because, as Pugh understood when she wore that exquisite look in a world where women’s bodies are hypersexualized and hyperpolite and increasingly not ours, people would always have something negative to say.

The fashion industry may have liberated the nipple long ago with fully sheer catwalk looks as common as flowers for spring, but the visceral response to the as soon as bare chest is the latest example that society is not yet ready to embrace breasts as mere anatomy.

“Women’s bodies are continually sexualized. Even with breastfeeding, even in the act of breastfeeding your baby, someone could potentially be looking at your nipple. It is almost a crime [to show breasts in public]”, Shakaila Forbes-Bell, London-based fashion psychologist and author of Great energy of the dress. “Florence knew this would cause controversy… and the fact that she had to [respond to] what has been said about it … shows how much we think we are liberated, we are still very much bound by restrictive social norms.

At least off the track. Generally, “Fashion lives in a fantastic zone” above such social and critical codes, says Ilya Parkins (PhD), associate professor of gender, women and sexuality studies at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Breasts and bodies, even if of a certain type – sorry for the rest of us with a size larger than a B, or bodies larger than a size 0 – are treated with neutrality if not celebrated.

Check out the almost nude offers for autumn 2022. Like the transparent tops by Loewe or the trompe l’oeil Gaultier tribute by Y / Project or the dress with optical illusion by Balmain. If they didn’t fully show off their bare nipples, the designers found a sense of joy and pleasure in the body and breasts: from the surrealism of Schiaparelli’s golden cone-shaped breastplates and pointed blazers resembling a pencil shave at Marc Jacobs ‘tops of triangle bras that hug the nipples and polo shirts and sweaters by Prada to increase the breasts.

This celebration and breast release has spread to recent pop culture. See: Beyoncé’s Schiaparelli dresses and the tassels on her nipples and the star pastries in her Renaissance album cover, Kylie Jenner’s “nipple free” bikini and the look of the Billboard Music Awards and that of Bella Thorne Morbio red carpet dress. It has also impacted our lives: Wireless bras sales are down as women are moving away from the constricting undergarment in favor of the comfort we’ve come to appreciate in recent years.

Forbes-Bell sees this as the next phase in our post-pandemic casual world: “Clothing is hardly a continuation of the comfort type trend. Not just seeing your clothes as something very practical, but something that is an extension of yourself and using your clothes as a way to express yourself and your identity. “

And your politics.

The fact that the reaction to Pugh’s dress took place against the backdrop of Roe vs Wade it is not insignificant. “These things are connected and characterized by a deep sense of the need to control women’s bodies,” says Dr. Parkins. “We are at the beginning of a period of backlash against women who are noisy and take up space.” In that case, then, dressing naked can be seen as an act of protest, a way to cling to control and autonomy when we are stripped of it. “It reignited those conversations about what it means to be a woman, own property and take up space,” adds Forbes-Bell. “And how do you want to translate it. And I think people translate it through their clothes. “

In the real world, away from the runway fantasy, there are obviously limits to how comfortable we can feel about using fashion as a political weapon. Like many, I’m furious at the erosion of my physical rights, but while I’m wearing a sheer top and no bra to walk my dog ​​or picnic in the park topless will no doubt get an answer, it probably won’t. statement I hope it will. (I’d be much better off protesting, voting, donating money to abortion funds.) Then there’s the fact that Pugh operates in the privilege of his fame but also of his cis whiteness; these same actions would likely have very different consequences for others, particularly women of color.

“Conventional views of the genre are completely wrapped up in this kind of hysteria about women’s public nudity,” adds Dr. Parkins. “Until we move away from that, which requires such a dismantling, it will continue to be tied to that cycle.”

And that cycle will only break when we allow bodies to exist bodies, vessels that carry us across the world that we can adorn in any way we see fit. It’s about “moving away from positivity and more towards neutrality and thinking of your body as its own,” says Forbes-Bell.

Nipples and all.

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