From glowing LED nipples on the sidewalks of Madrid to latex sculptures of women’s chests that found a way around Instagram’s anti-nudity policy, there have been a number of impressive artistic responses to censorship on social media in the last year or so. With these responses, artists have called out a variety of issues with social media’s treatment of nudity. Some have focused on the hypocrisy of allowing violent images while banning ‘obscene’ pictures of women breastfeeding. Other have focused on the pieces of art that have been taken down for showing naked bodies. Others still have pointed out the sexism of considering men’s nipples appropriate and women’s off-limits.
The nipple brooch is a fresh protest, the main goal of which is to celebrate women’s and trans people's bodies. Paloma Smith, who goes by the name ‘Octoplum' on Instagram, is an illustrator and sculptor with a new way to get around Instagram’s nudity policy. Her series of nipple sculptures double as wearable art. She has created nipples of all different shapes, sizes, and skin colors, some featuring different types of body jewelry. Some are surrounded by adornments, and some leak breastmilk. All of them are attached attached to pins so that they can be worn with pride.
The nipples are made out of polymer clay, while the piercings are made out of wire. The entire sculpture is painted with enamel paint and then glued and screwed onto a metal brooch. Smith, who describes herself in her Instagram bio as a feminist and cat mother in addition to being an artist, sells her drawings on Redbubble, and her sculptures on Etsy. To describe her nipple brooches, Smith writes on her listing, “For our whole lives as women we are made to feel that our breasts are a dirty secret, even a shameful secret. Too sexual for eyes, too unattractive for eyes.” Her goal, she explains, is to “ celebrate as many different kind of nipples as possible, big, small, puffy, flat, inverted, light, dark, pink, brown, scarred, lactating, you name it!”