Will Instagram #FreeTheNipple With An R-Rated App?

It’s been almost a year since a certain social media storm started brewing. And it just keeps getting fiercer. 

Women in their masses continue to upload topless selfies, but with men’s nipples covering their own. Sound odd? It definitely is. But they’re making an important statement. 

Micol Hebron, an American artist and political activist, sparked the online movement. She posted an image that has encouraged woman to stick men’s nipples – after cutting them out – on top of their own, in order to challenge social media’s restrictions on what’s deemed ‘appropriate’, and gain equal rights between men and women in the nip department.  

And this is how #FreeTheNipple was born. 

Now, after much anticipation, Business Insider reports that Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has explained the reason for the censorship – and it’s all down to Apple.

Yep, while Apple are yet to comment, Systrom affirms that for the app to be available on Apple smartphones and included on the App store, users have to abide by their rules which state that unless the app is restricted for adults only, nudity is strictly prohibited.

Systrom added: “Instagram is commited to artistic freedom, but in order to scale effectively there are some tough calls.” So, if Instagram is to remain accessible to everyone, the app must abide by Apple’s restrictions.

Since, Systrom attended a Vanity Fair panel in which he was asked whether an R-rated version of the app would work as a way around the #FreeTheNipple campaign.

“There have been discussions,” he said, but added that while it’s difficult to decide what is R-rated, they are also “not in the business of hosting porn. We focus on people being able to express themselves in beautiful ways.”

As of yet, no further decisions have been made.

> Instagram: @alinenilsson

Meanwhile, this user had to re-post her photo a series of times, with the final caption: “This one was reported again. So here it is with two MALE NIPPLES stickers that I put on to cover my illegal FEMALE NIPPLES! So now you can’t say s***, this is so f***ing wrong and this is not equality. #malenipples #freethenipple”

Celebrity men have been jumping on board too. Nipples, assemble! 



Orange Is The New Black star Matt McGorry took to Instagram to show his support, using previously banned A-list women’s nipples to prove his point.

He said: “This is a photo of me from my bodybuilding years, circa 2010. And these are the nipples of @mileycyrus and @chrissyteigen (I hope you don’t mind me borrowing them!) from their Instagram posts that were removed due to the dangerousness of their visible female nips. Can’t you tell by how perverse my photo has become without my asexual male nippies? Sarcasm.”

He went on to make some very thought-provoking points about society’s perception of nipples. You can read the full ass-kicking paragraph, right here

It’s taken a year for the trend to catch on, but Micol took to Facebook to claim the credit for the original post: “TBT to that time, over a year ago (June 2014) that I posted an image of male nipple and told everyone to put it over images of female nipples to make them ‘internet acceptable’….”

To be fair, the debate just keeps on resurfacing, with celebrities also jumping on the bandwagon.

> Chrissy Teigen teased the rules with a strategically placed hairspray can…


Famously, Rihanna’s account was taken down due to the content of her imagery, and Bruce Willis’ daughter has also protested against the removal of her own topless photos.

Miley Cyrus regularly attempts to post artistic bare-breasted snaps, and, most recently, Chrissy Teigen has made waves after Instagram banned her W Magazine shoot, due to the fact that her nipples were showing. 

> Instagram: @mileycyrus


So why does society accept a male nipple, and not a female one? We dare you to tell the aesthetic difference between them.

When you do a cut-and-paste jobby, just like these sassy ladies, it’s all the same. But, according to social media, one makes for happy viewing, and the other will result in a profile ban. 

> Instagram: @nipple313


But really, it’s all down to how we think about them, while apparently Apple gets the last word. 

Interestingly, “…photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed.” So it really is just the nipple that’s the ‘problem’ then. 

This campaign shows no signs of silencing.

So we’ll just wait to see if those nips are finally allowed to be free… 

By Laura Jane Turner