The Nipple Aversion

The nipple aversion is such an anomaly to me. Men are able to be shirtless in public with breasts the size of mine, and no one will say anything, but a topless woman results in catcalls and scorn. I’ve written on this before, but I had an incident that brought this to the forefront of my thoughts.

I had an interaction at work with a woman in her 50s, or 60s.  She was purchasing some bralettes that we carry in store, and explaining how comfortable she felt they were.  While expanding on this, she asked if I had tried them, and being professional I said I hadn’t.  She continued on to explain how much she disliked normal bras, which I of course agree with! I told her that I’m sure they’re comfy, but I haven’t worn a bra or bralette for about two years, and I’ve felt much healthier because of it.

That’s when her face dropped into a grimace. She looked at my boobs, and told me that she used to work in schools, so it wasn’t appropriate to have visible nipples around young children.  Then it looked as if she felt a bit guilty and said it was probably a result of her generation.

I think that’s bullshit.

As someone who was a teacher she could have had the opportunity to show that everyone has their choice of how they want to display their bodies, this feels like a missed opportunity.  Yes, I understand that working with small children and having visible nipples is inappropriate, but that doesn’t mean you are forced, as a woman in teaching, to wear a bra.  You can wear a camisole, or layer.  Teacher dress codes are strict, and that makes it easy to mask the lack of bra.  So, your answer is invalid.

We all have nipples, and young children literally just stopped suckling on them. So why are you are so offended by them now? I have nipples, you have nipples, so who cares if you cover them up or let them be free? The people who are offended are probably the same people who tell breastfeeding mothers to “put them away” because “they’re being indecent.”

I used to work exclusively in a hardware store and greenhouse, where I didn’t shave my legs, and didn’t wear a bra, and not one person said a word to me about it.  There were older men, younger men, older women, moms, children, high schoolers, and anyone else you can imagine. No one cared and I didn’t care.  I’d get the occasional glance at an erect nipple, or a quick once-over, but that just happens being a female working in a male dominated industry. Then as soon as I switched professions, where the clientele is predominantly women, this all changed.

I have found that women are the worst perpetrators of being hurtful to other women, and those who are gender fluid, gender queer, but have “feminine” style.  (I don’t like categorizing style with gender). Women are harder on themselves and each other, because we feel we have to be prettier, sexier, better, smoother, and photoshopped.

I walked past an adolescent girl at work, I was wearing a skirt that showed, maybe the bottom half of my calves, and as I walked away she grabbed her friend.  She pointed at my leg hair and whispered about it to her friend.  Then, perhaps a couple of months back, I was in Chicago, and I had some younger girls pointing and talking about me.  In retrospect, I think my bralette slipped to the side and I was wearing a sheer top, so it could have been the lone ranger nipple.  But it’s still common for me to have the most negative reactions from adolescent and teenage girls.

There’s a trend of taught decency that we have to fight against.  We have to stop feeding these negative views of beauty to young girls.  Why were they disgusted by my leg hair, and offended by my nipple? Because they were taught it’s gross and indecent.  I remember in middle school and high school, shaving my legs with precision to make sure not one single hair was visible. I experimented with make-up and tighter clothes to make myself look more appealing. It wasn’t that I wasn’t being true to myself in terms of style, I still rocked a mohawk and band tees. Instead it was that I let my persona become my personality, and that’s what we’ve been seeing forever.

Who can’t name a girl who faked being less intelligent because being smart intimated boys? Who doesn’t remember not playing pick up basketball and soccer matches with boys because you didn’t want to seem to strong? Opportunities were not used because we were taught about masculine fragility at such a young age, that it shaped our development.  Women were raised to be less, to protect the fragile egos of boys and men.

If I had had a teacher with armpit hair, didn’t shave her legs, never wore a bra, and still kicked ass, I would have been a much less judgmental person growing up!  I would have seen that, oh, she doesn’t shave, but it doesn’t effect her ability to be a great teacher.

It’s in schools and at home that we have the opportunities to change the conversation about beauty, decency, and body hair.  Have the conversation about people being different and making different choices about appearance. As a mother don’t comment on how gross your legs look because you haven’t shaved in a month.  As a father don’t comment on other women’s choices negatively, because of your personal preference.  Small, constant, negative comments are what sticks with developing minds.

I was disgusted by the prospect of armpit hair, body hair, free nipples, unshaved legs, bushy eyebrows, and a slew of other things.  I hated the human body, I hated the female body in it’s raw, unedited form, and that’s what happens when I have only been show one version of woman.

Live your life as you please, but keep the snide comments to yourself.  Body hair isn’t gross. Not wearing bras doesn’t make you slutty. We all are humans who have the ability to make choices. Don’t take a shit on people who are comfortable being themselves.

I love not shaving my legs.  I love the way the wind feels blowing in between my leg hairs. It’s wonderful to save time in the shower, and not have to constantly worry about the itchy 5 o’clock shadow.

I love not wearing a bra. I love that my shoulders are no longer burdened with straps that left red welts.  I’m so happy I don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars a year on “cute” bras.  I think it’s sexy when you can see through my shirt just a bit.

Stop hating on everyone who is part of the revolution of the body. Embrace your purest form and you too will see what happiness awaits you.


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