I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at pokey nipples recently.
No, I haven’t reverted to puberty.
I have been trying to find examples of artistically composed partly exposed breasts as inspiration for an upcoming photographic project I’ve been working on.
But really. It has been hard work. There is so much awful stuff out there. And I just have to wonder about why we have to be so fascinated either by the slightest hint of an exposed nipple or the outline of a nipple exposed through a tight fitting top.
To get some sense of an answer I had to take myself back to my own adolescence and I think it has to do with our (men’s) early teenage experience of breasts.
When we play as children to see a girl playing without a top on is a non-event. We don’t even think about it. In that respect, girls are no different to boys at that age. There is a bit of stuff about “girl germs” and “boy germs” but a lot of young boys have a girl as their best friend. Most families don’t have any problem at all with putting their very young daughters in the bath at the same time as their very young sons.
As our children get a bit older we teach them it’s not appropriate to expose their genitals, but there’s no problem with chests.
But then puberty happens.
All of a sudden we can’t have a girl as our best friend. Barriers begin to develop between girls and boys. Between young men and young women.
From our (boys’) perspective there are all these changes happening to our “girl” friends and we are not allowed to know about what’s happening. They start developing breasts and wearing bras – it’s a whole area of human experience of which we are denied any understanding. At least initially.
Girls become embarrassed to talk about their bodies. Particularly their breasts and anything to do with them.
So we boys learn to be sneaky to satisfy our curiosity. And, at first, it is just curiosity. We would just like to know about what’s happening. What do breasts actually look like. What is it like to have breasts. What’s it like to wear a bra.
In time, this sneakiness becomes second nature. Most of us learn to steal a look without being too obvious about it.
All this leads us to nipples.
We learn that we are actually allowed to see the whole of a breast – except for the nipple. Girls are allowed to wear the briefest of bikinis as long as their nipple is not exposed. And if it does happen to pop out, even for the briefest moment, it is the most embarrassing moment on earth for the girl and the most exciting thing on earth for the boy.
Nipples then, become the goal. Sure some cleavage is great but a nipple is just the best. And so, we learn to see any sight of a nipple as the greatest prize available to us. Even if we don’t see the bare skin of a nipple but see its shape poking through your top, that’s a prize of sorts.
Unfortunately we spoil it all for ourselves by making our appreciation too obvious. In response you (women) learn to wear bras that hide your nipple and that it is a mortal sin to be seen, shock horror, without a bra even under thick clothing.
I don’t know if I have answered any questions here. Perhaps though it might be the start of a discussion.