‘Nipples’ is the latest in Nowness’ Define Beauty series – a look at the absurdity of online body image policing, directed by Matt Lambert
Why does the internet refuse to acknowledge female nipples? That’s a question Nowness is asking with the release of short film Nipples, directed by Matt Lambert and powerfully narrated by Adwoa Aboah, the latest in the video platform’s Define Beauty series.
A three-minute ode to the nipple, the film is a defiant missive against social media prejudice with Aboah’s poem directly tackling unfair censorship – “For if anything shows the absurdity of gender politics it’s the social media censorship of female nips.”
Featuring nipples of all shapes, sizes, colours and genders – fucking, fondling and feeding – the video indulges you in the images Instagram doesn’t want us to see. The female nipple has been a constant cause of conversation in recent years, with the #FreeTheNipple campaign taking off in 2012. As ‘offending’ social media accounts are deactivated and ‘obscene’ images reported, we still find ourselves asking: why?
An uncensored version of Nipples will be uploaded to Instagram today, and perhaps be quickly removed. A frustrating irony given that if the film featured entirely male nips, it wouldn’t be considered explicit.
With women still being denied control over their own bodies, Aboah asks: “If a guy’s moob is bigger than a woman’s breast, why are her nipples the ones they protest?” Combining a mix of iPhone mirror shots, illustrations and pro footage, Lambert’s film explores the nipple from all angles and in all uses, and addresses the fear of conversation around perceived ‘normality’ of the body.
“The shame that’s built into digital censorship then starts to permeate the way we exist in the real world,” the director said when discussing his inspiration for the film. “I have to continue to challenge those boundaries, raising awareness of how absurd things are – sometimes by making absurd examples.”
“The shame that’s built into digital censorship then starts to permeate the way we exist in the real world” – Matt Lambert
Nipples continues the conversation about gender inequality disguised as the protection of decency online, with Aboah’s poem concluding: “Who gets to decide whether an image is sexual or art? A Silicon Valley coder, that’s who, and his right wing counterpart.”
Founder of Gurls Talk – the online community urging young women to talk openly with each other – Aboah is the perfect choice of narrator, “She embodied this mix of intellect meets anti-establishment,” Lambert explained, “She has elegance and irreverence at the same time, which I think was really important for the message.”
Nowness’ Define Beauty series aims to unpick ‘the politics and prejudices of attraction’ – from waxing to Neurofibromatosis (look it up, hun), each film takes a whimsical look at stereotypical expectations of beauty. Whether it’s a coconut getting the chop, a sizzling steak cooking up a tan, or turning the gaze on the male body (specifically that dad-bod), the collection of videos are a true rejection of the rule book.