Why are men allowed to have pointy nipples but ladies can’t? Well, not so much can’t, but we’ve been brought up to feel embarrassed about an apparent nipple poke. I hadn’t lent it much thought until recently. Renee Zellweger, portraying a woman overwhelmed in a chilly house, took a moment of peace in the bathroom. In the mirror she noticed, to her horror, that her nipples were poking through her blouse. She blows down her shirt in an effort to soften them, and then yells for someone to bring her a jacket so she needn’t feel embarrassed. While I had a chuckle, so relatable, I also thought, I bet men never worry about the state of their nipples. Why do women?
I polled male friends on Facebook if they ever worried about their nipples being hard. And besides a few commenting on not liking the feeling, none of them worried about it. I asked women and had a very different response: embarrassment, shame, hiding behind padded bras or pasties(stickers that keep the poking down), crossing arms over the chest, pulling at clothes. In general, we’ve been taught that it’s unladylike to allow the nipples to do what they naturally do. We’re a bit chilly, but someone might get the impression that we’re aroused.
I recall moments as a young teenager of people pointing out my pointiness. I became very self-conscious in the freezer aisle on a summer’s day or even a sudden cool wind. A guy friend once joked, “Someone get this girl a sweater or she’ll poke someone’s eye out!” I mean, they’re nipples, not swords.
Their function is breast feeding, and both men and women have them because we all follow the same blueprint in utero for a while. I wonder why female nipples became so special? Why are we the ones trying to pretend we don’t have them? A swimsuit can be deemed appropriate as long as the nipples aren’t showing, all other parts of the breast can have a peek-a-boo, but not the nipples. Men’s swimwear: just bottoms. Isn’t it interesting that it isn’t the other way around?
In the beginning of our creation in the womb, the powers that be recognized that it might be female, and could therefore require nipples, so every creation got them, just in case. Further down the creating line, things swing in a different direction, and it’s decided that this creation shall receive a penis, rendering the nipples simply decorative versus functional. Why then aren’t male nipples sensationalized? Doesn’t that make more sense? How many parts do we have just for show and without a purpose? The appendix? But even that had a use, we’ve just outgrown its usefulness.
I think it’s high time that fashion removed the weight from women on this. Perhaps we should throw some sequins and tassels on the male nipple. Or bare everything else except the nips, drawing attention to the forbidden/enticing zone. Let’s turn the tables! (in the textile world)
I just want to add that I think all swimsuits are silly. If it’s warm enough to swim, we likely don’t need a thin absorbent cloth sticking to us. Also, I’m certainly not suggesting that women’s purpose is making babies and breastfeeding. It’s just a miraculous function most been gifted with if we choose to do so. I’m a woman without children, so I figured I should mention that. My nipples are decorative at this point as well… but with hidden powers!