Seven things you didn’t know about Free The Nipple

Over the summer you may have heard a little phrase that has caught the attention of journalists and social media addicts everywhere – “Free The Nipple”. So what does it actually mean?

  1. The true “Free The Nipple” meaning is threefold. It started as a film, directed by and starring Lina Esco, but rapidly turned into a campaign for equality and a mission to empower women by allowing them to go topless in public, just as men do.
  2. In thirty-seven American states, it is currently illegal for women to bare their breasts publicly (including in order to breastfeed in five of those states). In certain states, like Louisiana, the punishment for doing so can cost an offender $2,500 in fines and up to three years’ jail time. Even though New York City legalised female toplessness back in 1992, women are still arrested for doing so.
  3. The American attitude towards nipples confuses and angers supporters of the #FreeTheNipple movement. Esco says: “Did you know an American child sees over 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders on TV before they turn 18 and not one nipple? Yet the FCC fines CBS $550,000 for Janet Jackson’s infamous Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction; which was covered by a metal ‘nipple shield’ if one looks at the footage.”
  4. Esco’s movie is based on the real-life efforts of a group of women who fought the censorship laws in New York City and directly resulted in the 1992 legalisation of toplessness in that state. Free The Nipple was filmed in 2012, and in the very first week of shooting it attracted hordes of activists and graffiti artists wanting to support the movement.
  5. Stars of the movie include Saturday Night Live’s Janeane Garofalo, High School Musical’s Monique Coleman, The Twilight Saga’s Casey LaBow and Gone Girl’s Lola Kirke. In the climax of the movie, Lina Esco’s character runs half-naked through Times Square.
  6. Rather predictably, censors stopped the movie release short. Esco was informed that unless several scenes were cut, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) would require them to release it under an NC-17 rating, which she believes to be “the kiss of death”. The director has instead decided to team up with a crowdfunding company in an effort to find audiences directly.
  7. Celebrities jumping on the #FreeTheNipple bandwagon include Miley Cyrus, who tweeted her own memorable personalised Christmas greeting, Cara Delevinge, Liv Tyler and Scout Willis.

Further details about #FreeTheNipple can be found at the official website and via Esco’s Twitter feed.

Photo credit: Free The Nipple

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