In today’s over-stimulating 21st century society, it seems impossible to escape the media’s hyper-sexualized, attention-seeking depictions of the female form, because sex sells. Men are not nearly subjected to the same daily scrutiny that women are if they choose to wear a mesh shirt or display their piercings — the world seems incapable of accepting that the female form can function outside the sexual sphere.
However, counter-culture is rising from frustrated women who realized that the inequality and forced societal norms are too problematic to stay unchallenged. This counter-culture lives and breathes in New York City, where women have been allowed to go topless in public since 1992 and #FreeTheNipple demonstrations are common. College Magazine lists NYU as one of the top 10 most progressive universities in the United States.
Despite the exterior pressures against it, desexualizing the female body is on the rise, especially with public figures such as Sofia Richie, Bella Hadid, Miley Cyrus, Lena Dunham, Cara Delevingne and Rihanna championing the cause. Because these celebrities are consistently featured in the media, they influence the mainstream culture.
“Lately, it’s like I’m either braless or I have my bra out.” supermodel Kendall Jenner recently wrote on her app. “I’m all about freeing the nipple.”
This trend has grown rapidly, with more millennials deciding to go braless and flawless. Major undergarment companies like Victoria’s Secret are now even seeing their shares fall.
Throughout the decades, celebrity trends and fashion brands have become increasingly revealing, thereby allowing visual norms to grow. The modern mentality of constant comfort coupled with the body positivity movement has encouraged people to love themselves, allowing others to accept them as they are. This two-way acceptance has begun to strip the body of vulgarity in a non-sexual environment. This is good news for artists who frequently feature nudity in their work. Tisch freshman Jill Rezen is currently working on a production at the Playwrights Horizons Theatre School that involves nudity, and she said that the body positivity and #FreeTheNipple movements are motivation for comfort on stage.
“Personally they’ve made me feel a lot more confident and secure that my body is normal and strong and nothing to hide,” Rezen said.
The idea is that the body of a woman is no more sexual than that of a man. This is consistently contested by social media websites, most of which have rules against nudity. Curiously, major social media platforms ban women’s nipples but allow men’s, as do various states. Working to normalize the female body, particularly breasts, across media will not only further our progressive footprint but will also pioneer a future for art, body positivity, equality and desexualization.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 21 print edition. Email Drew Lederman at [email protected]