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The history of nipple censorship

Nipple censorship is the rule enforced by social media companies, news outlets, and TV broadcasters to cover, blur, or otherwise hide women’s nipples.

September 5th, 2023 |Lifestyle

This use of censorship is often due to the opinion that women’s nipples are a sexual part of the body and mustn’t be shown. Users of social media sites who do show them are blocked, suspended, or restricted, no matter the format of the picture. 

This ‘erotic gaze’ of the female nipple is causing a lot of issues, including internalised misogyny within women. 

Here’s why nipple censorship causes problems for us here at MYA. 

Why are women’s nipples hidden on social media?

For some reason, women’s nipples are seen as a sexual part of the body and have to be censored in the media. 

There was a period in British history when calves were considered to be more of a sexual part of the body than the nipples. Wonder what changed?

The ever-evolving debate on whether women should be able to expose their nipples in real life and on social media suggests a deep sexualisation of the female body. 

But why should women be told what to do with their own bodies?

If men want to post a topless picture on their profile, that’s fine. Yet, Instagram community guidelines state that female nipples can only be shown if in the context of “breastfeeding, birth giving and after-birth moments, health-related situations (for example, post-mastectomy, breast cancer awareness or gender confirmation surgery) or an act of protest”. 

They also make it clear that photos of paintings and sculptures of women’s nipples are fine to share, but real-life nipples are not.


In fact, it’s not just pictures. Words related to female health, like vagina, period, tampon - and our favourite, nipple - are censored on social media, often penalising the user or blocking them from posting content altogether. 

How nipple censorship causes issues for cosmetic surgery companies like MYA

Here at MYA, we love to show off our work online and across our social media sites. Our social media channels and Ads are targeted to people over the age of 18, as we only want to be advertised or be seen by an 18+ audience. 

Whether it’s through organic posts or running ads, the pictures we submit often get flagged as inappropriate and can’t be posted online unless the nipple is covered. 

But only if it’s an image of a female…

When it comes to breast augmentation before and after images for female patients, it’s not just the size of the breast that changes. Nipple realignment is often completed during the procedure to improve the overall symmetry of the breasts. 

If we have to cover them up, those who are interested in the surgery can’t see the possible results. 

However, for male chest reductions or male liposuction, we don’t have to cover up/blur the nipples in images across our social media. Read our blog post on FREEING THE NIPPLE!

Benefits of the ‘free the nipple’ campaign

Free the Nipple is a campaign with the aim of lifting the ban on female nipples being shown on social media. 

The activist Lina Esco started the campaign in 2014, but we are yet to see significant change. 

However, things are moving in the right direction, as people are now more aware of the unfair restrictions and are continuing to campaign against their enforcement. 

The future of ‘free the nipple

How the media portrays female nipples is sadly ingrained into our brains, and it will take a lot of work to change that. 

The best way to fight against this view is simply to normalise all nipples. Showing women’s nipples more will help see them become less of a novelty and more of a societal norm.

We’ve already seen some progress in the reclamation of the female body in the form of mugs, plant pots, and phone cases that have pictures of breasts or have been moulded into the shape of them. Is this a step in the right direction, or a trend that will die out?

We’ll soon see. 

What does MYA think?

Here at MYA, we personally think that women’s nipples should be allowed to be shown on social media. They help us to demonstrate the work we do to those who are interested in undergoing breast augmentation surgery. 

For more information on the cosmetic surgery procedures we perform, contact us today!

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