All content of this blog is my own opinion only. It does not represent the views of any organisation or association I may work for, or be associated with. Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your Doctor.

The complicated rules of "breast coverage"

Well for men it seems really quite simple. Generally chests are always ok, if not they display signs to tell them:
For women the rules are very complicated:

Showing breasts is OK if it's hot, there's sand and you are next to a vast expanse of water.  If you are there and see this in person it's OK.  However if a photo is taken of the scene, then the breasts must be obscured "for decency."   Again men don't need to worry about this as their chest can be photographed without covering.
The water has to have waves though, the same rules don't apply to say a river or lake; there it would be indecent for a female to remove her top..

In hot weather it's acceptable to wear a bikini top, but it has to be made of a Lycra type material and be suitable for swimming.  Otherwise it's considered only OK for underneath clothes, you wouldn't answer the door or head out wearing only this item - this would be considered "indecent".

Certain newspapers have a special page to show off the uncensored breasts they decide are OK for people to see, but breasts are never shown on other pages.  More of these "vetted and ok" breasts can be found in magazines - but if they're on the cover the nipples are covered. Also, breasts including nipples, as adverts to sell things seem to be OK too...
What seems to cause the most upset otherwise is the nipple.  Although it looks very similar to a man's, it seems to be very offensive.  If this is covered, almost anything goes...unless you are famous and have sheer fabric and then you can show nipple too.
The rules on the Internet are very confusing indeed - one website "Facebook" has declared breasts that do not show nipple are OK, but then they remove pictures of breasts without nipples and leave other nipples on there.  I'm not sure whether even they really know what is and isn't OK. 

Why the breasts are on show seems to be an important factor.  If it's just for fun that seems to be OK, whereas generally they seem to get more upset if the woman is feeding her baby.

As you can imagine, feeding babies can be very difficult with all these rules, but they get round this by making plastic copies of the breast and silicone copies of nipples (which are considered "decent").  Because mums want to go out and about, this often means they use these replicas frequently, so some fill them with a powder made from whey, a by-product of the manufacture of cheese - which then gets modified so babies can tolerate it.  Now most babies are fed this way after the first few weeks, and the women who want to give their own milk often struggle to find someone to help if they have a problem.  Some who want to give their own milk use a large apron called a nursing cover  to ensure they are "modest".  Others suggest mums should express their milk and feed back via the plastic copy breast so as to ensure not a flash of breast is seen.

Our culture is infected and obsessed with sexual objectification (thanks to patriarchy).
Hence, women's body’s are constantly deemed as being inappropriate when dressed or presented in a certain manner (something that is apparently open to personal interpretation). Men are taught that they’re entitled to our bodies, on many different levels, and women are shamed and blamed when they’re attacked/sexually harassed. [sic]
PS the rest of the blog post is well worth a read, just click through the link.

In fact our culture has gone so far the other way, some suggest exposure to breasts can cause all sorts of problems.... (click the link to see more!) and some consider a picture like that on the link disgusting   Well no actually the text with the image discusses nudity, and the writer appears to be discussing discussing genitals (confused? I was!) ....I'm not sure what they were up to during biology class, but my money isn't on listening.

Perhaps most interesting of all, is whilst many Americans feel:
"Increasingly, in the United States, women are pressed to wear burkas. Such level of submission and servitude is un-American, and undermines women's rights to equality and better quality of life" (Facebook group - Americans againt Burkhas)
Nobody considers breast coverage to be vaguely comparable.  Nobody argues for equality on the old chest front.  Nobody spots the irony....


  1. I love this! I seriously repost so much of what your write. It's hilarious because it has so much truth to it!


  2. how true! I think in this culture (north america) more breasts need to be exposed as our men need to be de-sensitized. Apparently, it is ok to expose your breasts in Ontario, although I didn't have the opportunity or the nerve to test that out. Nipples seem to be the the thing that disturbs people most. Curious

  3. Thank you Jenna :) and yes absolutely anon!

  4. I agree- Breasts have become so over-sexualized...its really quite ridiculous. And come on..every person on this earth has nipples. I find it mind boggling that little teenager girls (as well as adults) can post pictures of themselves half naked in incredibly suggestive positions and that is acceptable...but the second a mother posts a picture of her breastfeeding her child it is considered indecent...even if you cant see anything. Why are people so uncomfortable with people using breasts for there intended purpose?

  5. I think, when we take pictures of our sons, nephews, husbands, boyfriends, etc we should put the little pixels or the censored oval over the nipples. Show websites and Facebook how ridiculous this rule is.

  6. I think comedienne Ellen Cleghorne said it best during her standup "How come white breasts are pornography and black breasts are anthropology?"

  7. Goodness! What are you thinking??? This is America! Breasts are for selling cars and beer! (she said with a sly grin...)

  8. Sabrina, that's hilarious! My bf has really large nipples and I think it would be incredibly funny to block them out.

    I also like what Anonymous quoted about pornography vs. anthropology. Very true.

    This is the first post I have read, and I will definitely have to read more. This is what I have always said and have tried to get people to understand and accept. Some are just sooo closed off and up-tight. Sigh.

  9. I'm stating the obvious on your blog but I just wanted to say that the first photo at the top of your page (minus the speech bubble) is beautiful!

    How anyone could think that is rmotely sexual is beyond me!

    We need to take a few things from these communities and stop imagining that just because we are part of the "Western" world, it means that we are more advanced in all areas - backward more like!

  10. Size also seems relevant. You can show about half of an A cup at our local casino, but a quarter of a J cup gets you kicked out (and all through the papers as well.)

  11. Love this post! Nobody ever asked me if I'm embarrassed by men's nipples, or indeed by their underpants showing when they wear their jeans at half-mast! But then, they're lords of the universe and I'm just a woman ;-J

  12. Great blog. Reminds me of an incident from my youth. As a Brit who was brought up always holidaying where being naked or topless was fine, i have an amusing memory from my early 20's. I'd spent 6 weeks travelling around the Greek Islands. I had a lovely white bikini with little blue flowers on it, but i'd never actually worn the top. Then me and my friend met these Americans who offered us the chance to sail on their yacht. Yes we liked the idea, but i was aware that Americans generally seemed to wear bikini tops, so dug out my top to wear. Thing is, during my travels i'd swum in these springs were the water was red, and my white bikini bottoms were now decidedly 'browny red'... the contract between tops and bottoms was quite apparent!

  13. The female breast past its 18th birthday. Strip joint? Legal. Massage parlor? Legal. Lad magazine? Legal. Tony lad magazine (e.g., Playboy)? Legal. On the internet with a come hither grin on her face? Legal.

    But if she walks down a suburban street topless on a 35 degree day, or doffs her bikini bra on most American beaches, someone will ring the cops. Worst of all, if she is a very demure woman but is a passionate breastfeeder at home, and has her husband photograph her with her nipple in her baby's mouth, and that photograph is uploaded to a social networking site, and a single person complains, she will lose access to her account for 3 days. Meanwhile, FB allows groups whose name includes the c word.

    I conclude that is OK for a grown women to reveal her breasts IF DOING SO RINGS GREASES THE WHEELS OF COMMERCE. Is that the sort of society you and I want to be part of???

    Why this perverted taboo about nipples and nipples alone?

    Why should leering immature men restrict what a fully grown woman can and cannot show in public? We will soon see angry defiant bare-chested women marching four abreast (pun intended) down the streets of New York and London, with raised fists, saying to hell with immature males and prudish females, and chanting "Say it strong, say it loud, I have breasts, and I am proud."

    The North Atlantic countries are 52% female. The average woman will soon be better educated than the average man. We will simply all have to come to terms with the fact that to be human is to have breasts. And stop pretending we are afraid of them, stop leering at them.

    I know what it means not to be a sex object, to be free of all leering. I am male.


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