Are My Nipples Normal? A Real Talk About Boobs, Nipple Confidence & Third Nipples

If you have boobs, you probably think about them pretty freaking often. Ever since I was like, ten, I've definitely wondered if my boobs are normal or not. It's hard not to. Even with things like the #FreeTheNipple Movement that seek to empower women, there's a lot of pressure to have boobs in this one specific way. More than once I've just like, stared at my boobs in the mirror and been like, okay you guys, here you are and done a little Q&A with my boobs. Should you be that far apart? Are our nipples a normal color? Is it good that you're like, kind of small? 

The importance of my boobs to me has shifted over time. Sometimes, I really don't care that they're not perfect. Other times, I blame all of my relationship and dating struggles on my boobs. If only you were better, then my life would be better. It's ridiculous, but it's true. It can be hard not to place a lot of weight on your boobs.

So I was kind of relieved when, this one time, I was talking to people about bodies and how weird they are and a friend mentioned she had a third nipple. My mind was blown. Was this my real life Harry Styles? What even is a third nipple? How does it work? And how does she feel about her extra nipple, and her boobs and her body in general? 

This is that conversation:

So you have a third nipple?

Elaina: Yes. When I was born, doc told my parents that he hoped for my sake that I wouldn't grow a third boob. He was joking. But he did say they'd keep an eye on it. In terms of function, it's just a nipple. I never even thought about it until I was watching Friends and there's what one episode about Chandler and his "nubbin." So I just kind of picked it up and started calling it that.

It looks like a birthmark. I’m actually really proud of it. I think it’s fascinating, kind of funny. It’s like a fun bar trick when I can bring it up in convo, like, oh, hey I have a 3rd nipple. I show people very often. I had the nickname tri-nip in college.

How do you think about your boobs in general?

Elaina: I’ve always wondered about them. There have been times when I’m worried about them, and compared them to other boobs and nipples I've seen. I guess they’re standard. What I did think about a lot more actually was boob hair. I was always really conscious about peach fuzz that grew around my nipples. I never wanted to be the girl with hairy nipples, especially once I started dating. I still remember the names of the girls that the guys said had hairy nipples. It was awful.

For a long time, I didn’t know it was normal to have hair around your nipples. I grew up thinking it was a bad thing, but eventually realized that it's honestly NBD.

In short, my relationship with my boobs was tumultuous until I started to learn more about them and started to appreciate them more.

Lets talk mechanics.

Elaina: My third nipple has everything a regular nipple has: areola, actual nipple part, peach fuzz, sensitive to cold and touch. It’s connected to breast tissue - on some people it isn’t (like on Harry Styles) but mine is connected. I can feel it in the freezer section of grocery store.

Basically, it’s my tiny little sidekick, tiny little warrior that reminds me that its there.

What about when it comes to partners?

Elaina: I’ve had a few partners that have found the third nipple funny. Some made it sexual, some made it a joke. I always found it funny that partners had to make a thing of it, instead of letting it just be a part of me. Like, it had to be funny, or it had to be sexualized. Why can't it just be a body part?

Boobs are personified by partners, but it feels unfair because these are mine. They're not up for discussion. Whether you have big boobs or small boobs, 12 nipples or 2, inverted or not, they're your boobs. Don’t let anyone tell you anything about your boobs that will make you think twice about them. They are YOUR boobs.

Once a partner said, “Don’t bend over naked, your boobs look like turkey tits.”

If I’m going to take my clothes off, you better worship me like the goddess that I am.

How did you become more empowered when it came to your own boobs?

Elaina: In college, I worked at a lingerie shop, and I learned to measure other people's boobs. It taught me a ton. At first, I was comparing my boobs to other people's boobs 24/7. It was almost a compulsion. But by seeing so many boobs, I realized they weren't dirty, or private, or even inherently sexualized. Boobs just became boobs.

It was kind of freeing and exciting to go into work and talk about boobs all day and be surrounded by other people who wanted to talk boobs and breast shape and best enhance what they had.

Boobs are kind of like, a thing now. Nipples showing is seen as empowering. Is it good to have a body part be a trend?

Elaina: I think it's a great trend. Anything that makes you feel stronger and more energized is a yes from me. The movement to make your boobs your own and do whatever you want with them is hugely positive. I actually wish I could not wear a bra. I honestly have to because of boob sweat. Nothing like a hot day with saggy, sweaty tits.

What advice would you give other women who are paranoid about their nipples? How did you learn to love yours?

Elaina: I’m proud of my nipple (and all of my nipples now), but growing up I wasn’t. I was always self conscious of how they were in general. I don't have the perkiest boobs, and I never have. I had friends with "way better boobs" than me, and it honestly made me jealous. But by working in women's media, I've been learning that all boobs are beautiful, and I've just learned so much more about the existence of tons of different boobs and nipples. It makes me feel more empowered, and more proud of my own.

So like, don’t give a flying fuck about what anyone thinks about your boobs. Your boobs don’t define you. 

This was published as a part of The Most Real: Sex, Wellness, and Bodies, our answer to your questions (and, let's be real, our questions) about everything sexual health and wellness. Tampons, strap-ons, first time sex, ingrown bikini hairs, why you poop so much when you're on your period - we're getting real. Get real with us. Join the convo using #HCMostReal, and tagging @HerCampus.