With camera flashes bouncing off bare skin and bedazzled chests. Sophie Schoenfeld, VMA ‘18, holds the camera.
“Can we bring that light in closer?” Schoenfeld says, looking through the recent photos on her camera.
On January 28, dozens of people stood bare-chested and ready for their closeup. Schoenfeld and Abbey Jermyn, two theatre education graduate students, are gathering photos for their feminist brainchild: Nipple Project. The photos taken are being made into pieces of art, compiled into a calendar to be sold. All the profits from the calendar will be donated to Planned Parenthood. They also have an Instagram page, @nipplecalendarproject, bringing light to the social media platform’s censorship of female nipples. To Schoenfeld and Jermyn, a nipple is a nipple. They post a new photo every day, though many have already been taken down by Instagram. Rather than give up, Schoenfeld and Jermyn continue to post, writing, “Instagram is taking down our photos, but we will not stop! We will persevere until nipple equality is reached! Nipples are just nipples! Sexism is not ok!”
Nipple Project’s motto is, “Critiquing the censorship of women's nipples and promoting gender equality through creative nipple art.” And art they have created. Pictures feature nipples transformed with paint into everything from faces to enchanted gardens, but each photograph has the same goal: present nipples and chests as something other than explicitly sexulaized objects controlled by a higher power (i.e., the patriarchy).
“We're trying to desexualize women's nipples by using art and Instagram as a creative outlet, as well as making calendars to sell and donate money to Planned Parenthood,” says Schoenfeld. “We feel like it's something we can do to help in today's political climate.”
Warm lighting and sometimes whimsical designs shed beauty and empowerment on a long-appropriated part of the body. Check out @nipplecalendarproject on Instagram to see some beautiful feminist art and to find out more about buying Nipple Project calendars.
Text by Isabel Crabtree
Photos by Julianna Sy