Let’s Hear It for Nipples: 2022’s Unexpected Fashion Heroes


Once upon a time, not so long ago, a nip slip was the most tragic thing that could happen to a red carpet. It was taboo—an accident that (supposedly) should be seen as humiliating and tacky for the star it happened to. And pasties? Forget them. We simply had to pretend nipples didn’t exist. Call it the Barbie-doll effect. 

But what was once a stylist nightmare is now a chic, cool, empowering fashion move. And—deep sigh—isn’t that refreshing? Because it is complete bullshit that nipples of female-presenting people are ever censored.  

There’s an obvious, problematic double standard at play here. Male-presenting bodies are generally allowed to be topless in public, while topless female-presenting bodies are decried as inherently indecent or sexual. That strange gendered contradiction has led to cultural and legal inequality in male-presenting and female-presenting bodies. 

But 2022 seemed to be a milestone in the #freethenipple movement, a watershed year when it came to high-profile stars normalizing nipples in gorgeous public moments. From Doja Cat’s gold-plated Schiaparelli nipples at the Billboard Music Awards to Miss Flo’s visible chest behind her sheer pink Valentino at Haute Couture week, all my favorite red-carpet moments this year featured nipples. Even Kendall Jenner had a free-the-nipple moment on fashion’s biggest stage: the Met Ball stairs. 

Maybe all these nipple-baring or nipple-forward looks are a sign that cracks are forming in the patriarchy. Maybe they’re a sign we’re working toward a more accepting world where all bodies are respected. Or maybe we’re all just sick of how boring cleavage is and looking for some boob innovation. Whatever the reason, let’s applaud these sartorial risk takers. These women knew they would get hate for the way they chose to display their body but did it anyway. 

To those readers who, as free-the-nipple queen Florence Pugh puts it, “feel more comfortable with that inch of darker skin covered,” turn away now. This isn’t for you. But if you are ready to celebrate the female form and confront some deeply ingrained patriarchal double standards, then—peekaboob—let’s go. 

Doja Cat in Schiaparelli at the Billboard Music Awards

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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