Free the Nipple, a Movement You Should Get Behind

FREE THE NIPPLE! (Yes, I said nipple). 

The last few weeks there have been some people (more specifically, people with female genitalia) that have been seen shirtless around Gustavus' campus. They have been confronted and talked to. Some have even been pictured and talked about on social media without consent. Many people believe that they were doing it for attention, because God forbid a woman shows a little skin on a hot day. I was appalled at the number of students who were so confused and upset over what was going on. My friend was one of those people, so we started discussing the reasoning behind their actions. I brought up the Free the Nipple campaign. After doing some research after our discussion, I am so much more behind the movement than I thought I was. Here are the main points behind 'Free the Nipple' for those who have not heard of it or are confused by it (all courtesy of

Artwork by Abigail Bell 


Free the Nipple is all about gender equality. For years, it has been acceptable for males to be seen with their shirts off, nipples out. The only difference between the male and female anatomy of breasts is that female hormones cause women to build up fat pads to protect their mammary glands (which also only lactate due to specific hormones). That being said, this fat is extremely sexualized, which is why people lose it when they see a female shirtless, but not a man. It is a nipple, surrounded by fat--that is it. A nipple. Hence, the movement being called 'Free the Nipple'. They are striving for gender equality when it comes to bodies.

Photo courtesy of @freethenipple


Free the Nipple does not only care about the sexualization and equality of nipples, though I personally think that part of it is great. They believe that “all human beings are created equal” and they are fighting to achieve equal rights. The easiest way to fight for these rights is to do something that will shock and appaul those who do not think about the rights of ALL humans, while at the same time empowering people. The movement really grew after a 2012 film that followed a group of women around on their journey to raise awareness for this issue (it was called “Free the Nipple” for those of you interested). According to Free the Nipple's website, “The film quickly sparked what has become an international movement that seeks the equality, empowerment, and freedom of all human beings.” Free the Nipple wants to empower women and men alike to fight for the freedom and equality they deserve.


Photo courtesy of @britandco

As previously stated, it is difficult to bring about change with a simple talk about equality. Many have tried that and have had very little success. Free the Nipple is striving for change and is doing so in a manner that will get people talking and having the discussion that needs to be had.

So yes, in a way, Free the Nipple is about attention, but not for the reason everyone believes. The movement is to raise awareness about the inequality between genders. The only way people will discuss the issue is if something controversial and upsetting like nipples (though I don’t understand why nipples are controversial and upsetting, but that’s beside the point) are seen or talked about. If you are still curious about the movement, do some research of your own. No matter if you agree or disagree with the movement, it is important to have the discussion about equality--even equality of the scandalous nipple. So start a conversation with your family and friends (yes, about nipples), but more importantly, about the movement and what it stands for.

#FreeTheNipple #GenderEquality