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“Tittooing”: Isn’t a nipple just a nipple?

May 3, 2013

Image: Detail from image in possession of George Eastman House, Flickr Commons

So. As if there weren’t enough things to worry about, apparently now there is a difference between good nipples and bad nipples.  Such a difference, in fact, that women are opting to have a procedure intended for women having breast-reconstruction, and having darker nipples semi-permanently tattooed over their natural ones. This, apparently, transforms inadequately defined nipples into the image of nipple-y perfection.

Is it just me, or is this pretty weird? Maybe I’m being naïve, but surely a nipple is just a nipple? It can’t be an acknowledged truth that bigger and darker is prettier, or sexier, or whatever it is that makes them apparently desirable. Is it?

And quite aside from the fact that the aesthetic decision is a dubious one, I can’t help but feel that there is something seriously wrong with this whole “tittooing” thing.

Gail Proudman, a clinician who performs the procedure, was quoted in the The Telegraph as saying “A lot of people want their nipples made darker. It’s the fashion. Some people think theirs are too pink or their boyfriends want them done. I think sometime they are doing it because they are conscious of them being pale and they think it’s fashionable to have dark nipples. They’ll look at the magazines and page 3 and unfortunately a lot of it might be peer pressure.

“The girls get them done so they can go topless and not be embarrassed, or when they’re in a changing room and getting changed. They can go on holiday in front of their partners, go for massages, spray tans and just not be conscious of their body.”

So much is the pressure on girls to look perfect, it seems, they would feel self-conscious if they didn’t fork out serious cash for some designer nipples.

My general attitude to voluntary cosmetic procedures up until now has been a little wishy-washy.  Though I can’t imagine ever going in for one myself, I have always adopted a position of  “your body, your decision” and can envisage circumstances where the improvement of quality of life could be worth it. And there is an argument that for women to have control over their own bodies to such a degree that they can change them if and when they like is a liberating act of feminism.

But as far as I can see, there is absolutely nothing liberating or feminist about going to such extreme lengths to achieve female ‘perfection’. I am jumping off my comfortable position on the fence on this one, to say firmly and confidently that this is ridiculous.

Because the remedy for feelings of inadequacy and self-consciousness shouldn’t be to change ourselves to fit in with a (bizarre) conception of beauty, but to build self-esteem in how we look as we are. This constant quest to find artificial ways of ‘improving’ ourselves is only ever going to reinforce the idea that our bodies aren’t up to scratch, and that we should feel unsatisfied in how we look. So please, step away from the tattoo needle. Enough is enough. A nipple is a nipple.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Valter permalink
    July 1, 2013 1:38 am

    “Is it just me, or is this pretty weird?”

    It’s not you, this IS weird.
    I had sex with over 70 women, and I NEVER ever found nipples that made me think “Eww” or even “Not nice”.
    I think “bad nipples” are… only in the eyes of the beholder. 😉

    As the old adage says, “A nipple is a nipple is a nipple”. 😀

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