Rihanna recently created a stir throughout the Internet when she posted topless photos of herself on Instagram. The site almost immediately removed the pictures and suspended her account, however the message remains: Nipples are inappropriate.

 

This idea has been the root cause of much controversy. Why are female nipples seen as “indecent exposure” and unacceptable for public in a world where magazines like Playboy, and others of the same genre, are sold in every major newsstand?

 

There are two main viewpoints being discussed. On the one hand, Rihanna can be called quite the feminist. Why should women’s breasts be used as a means from which to make money by others, when women cannot even wear them themselves? By posting her own picture of her breasts on the Internet, Rihanna took control of her body. This stance is one of empowerment because it reclaims something that has for so long been taken from women and used in the porn industry only. In addition, showing nipple in general is a particularly progress action, since years ago the idea would not have been tolerated at all.

 

Rihanna CFDA Dress (www.ibtimes.co.uk)

Rihanna CFDA Dress (www.ibtimes.co.uk)

Furthermore, many question the stigma behind nipples. What makes men’s nipples acceptable for public but women’s inappropriate?

 

Since the picture was deleted, Instagram has argued that deleting the star’s account was accidental, but Rihanna has since deleted her own account. In addition, she wore a sheer dress to the CFDA Fashion Awards, in silent protest of the site.

 

Other stars have also protested Instagram’s decision to censor nipples. Scout Willis tweeted a video of herself walking around New York topless after Instagram deleted a picture she posted of a shirt with the image of two topless girls on it.

 

Her tweet read, “What @instagram won’t let you see #FreeTheNipple”

 

Not everyone is in favor of the new stance against nipple censorship. Some argue that Rihanna is allowing herself to be objectified and give people the ability to see her as just a body, two breasts, something for visual appreciation only.

 

In addition, people like Jessica Rey of Rey Swimwear have criticized society’s obsession with skin, arguing that modesty is more powerful than nudity, because it gives the person the power in the situation to decide how people look at them. In her recent speech The Evolution of Swimwear, Rey argues that that by wearing bikinis (or less in the case of nipple censorship), women give men the power to see them as objects, not as people.

 

(Related: Rashida Jones Asks, “Why Is Everyone Getting Naked”)

 

 What are your thoughts on nudity and nipple censorship? Let us know in the comments below or tweet me @LydiaYekalam