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It’s About Time We Addressed the 800-lb Nipple in the Room

With or Without Pixels

By Gerard DiLeoPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 10 min read
Bulbosity in Nature

It's about time we settled this whole nipple thing, once and for all. In the bud, so to speak.

Are nipples really such a problem? Not for me; I'm for 'em. I'm all in, whether they come a pair at a time, singly, or even supramammary. Consider me an areolar, erectile enthusiast. Downright. Up-left, too.

But here's the problem, at least by the FCC's broadcasting standards: nipples are not appropriate on the visible electromagnetic spectrum from wavelengths between 10 centimeters to 10 meters, which is how their images come out of your TV screen, though most nipples are under 2-3 centimeters, tops.

According to the FCC, nipples just shouldn't be flying through the air along these wavelengths; they should not be digitally decoded/re-encoded for digital portrayal via cathode rays, LED pixels, or liquid crystals. Even though they are important and figured prominently in our species' survival and evolution, the FCC just can't abide nipples; but even though those in the FCC who eschew them, have them. Presumably.

I was watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel allegedly about a transgender individual who was going through the stages of surgical alteration into the gender he wanted to be (her), or alternately, the masculinized person who wanted to be transgendered to female. It was free to watch, although it was sponsored by Geico.

I say, "allegedly," because it wasn't really about transgender issues or gender identity or LGBTQ rights--it was really a documentary about nipples. Allow me to explain.

As the documentary opened, it implied a promise that the story would center around removal of male sex organs, construction of a neovagina, anti-testosterone therapy, hormonal supplementation with estrogens and other female hormones, and finally breast implants. Now, it is policy that nowhere in the U.S. public media can be shown male or female sexual or conjugal organs. Certain holey organs are OK, e.g., ears, nose, mouth; but penises, penis-like objects, vaginas (even neovaginas), and anuses (for which I'm grateful) cannot be shown. I've come to terms with being denied these forbidden items, although I have to wonder, because they are nothing like the sticks and stones that can break my bones: biological holes can never hurt me. Especially with the use of protection.

But there are organs that both male and females have--nipples--about which the paradoxical FCC compliance guidelines disintegrate into a hypocritical mind fog with zero-visibility. Nipples are not holes. They don't have holes, either, unless you're vivisecting areolar tissue--illegal in most states, unless you're a pathologist--and staining the slide and have a passion for microscopic ducts. No, they're just topography and pigmentation.

Although men and women both have anuses, it is the anus itself that renders it forbidden in media--not which gender it's on. But with nipples, this just doesn't hold milk. That is, some people's nipples are fair game for viewing; some or not.

Allow me to digress...

I was watching a show (I watch a lot of them) about a woman who had her breast removed because of breast cancer. Since her nipple went with it, her desired cosmetic reconstruction posed a challenge. Luckily, modern medicine has remedied the absence of such things as nipple banks by invoking the artistry of tattooing to create a nipple, although it is quite 2-dimensional. But my TV is 2-dimensional, too, and for the life of me I couldn't tell the tattoo she ended up with from her real nipple, although I never actually got to see that. The censors allowed the tattoo of the nipple that replaced her original pixellated one, and on TV it looked pretty damn good to me. Like any good fiction, it required a certain suspension of disbelief.

But not much. I...saw...a...nipple.

...end of digression.

The transgender individual featured on the first show I mentioned--don't remember their name--let's call him/her/them a quintessential millennial name, say, Taylor--Taylor's story begins with her initial visit to the surgeon as a phenotypic male. During the evaluation, as she is still a he, the documentary has no issues with showing him from the waist up as the doctor does the physical exam. There they were--Taylor's nipples. His male nipples. They looked just fine, too. Hell, as natural-looking as nipple tattoos. They were two small hyper-pigmented spots. No controversy...yet. On him.

Next, the first surgical phase begins, wherein her doctor inserts the breast implants under non-pixellated he-nipples. During the surgery scene, the blood is pixelated, but not his nipples; this was obviously due to the "gross" guts factor, since the FCC also has policies regarding graphic content portraying viscerals, oozing, ruptures, and generally any type of horrible bodily cataclysms, unless it's on CSI or cable...then it's called entertainment, falling squarely into a category governed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

But here's where everything begins getting persnickety. On Taylor's postoperative visit to her doctor, she is once again examined from the waist up. The "him" nipples, now on a "her," are pixelated out. Thomas Jefferson groans from his grave.


They're not different. They're the same nipples. The surgery didn't change the nipples. Her she-nipples are no different from Taylor's he-nipples. So what's the deal? I rack my brain to try to rationalize why I'm not allowed to see Taylor's nipples now.

If it were just an obsession with wanting to see nipples themselves, I could just rewind the streaming program to re-enjoy Taylor's he-nips. Hell, I could just peel my shirt up in front of a mirror. But now that there is a woman underneath those same, exact nipples I saw twenty minutes ago, they--the same exact ones--are forbidden me. Why? We're not comparing apples and oranges, but amples and origins, as I will now explore without gratuitous titillation.

The nipple-eye connection: breaking news at the Bradenton Herald!

When does a nipple acceptable to view become unacceptable? A man's nipples are kosher, but a woman's are blasphemy; of course, those are two different nippled people. But aside from some variations in size, they're not two differently nippled people. That is, a man's nipples convert into unacceptably viewphobic nipples when they, albeit the same, continue areolarly as part of a female on the same person. I think I have a Eureka! moment when it comes to me...bulbousness.


Bulbosity: quality of being shaped like a bulb, being swollen, or bulging; or, the quality of bulbousness. Is the mystery solved?

The implants imported into Taylor's breasts impart the salacious quality of bulbosity. What is a female breast, exactly? It is a mammary gland, designed to produce milk for infants via breastfeeding. As such, the female breast is a bosom. The mammary glands constitute the bulk that gives the female breasts their bulbosity--or in this case, their bosomed mammary mammosity. Lactation is not about the nipple, it's about the bulbosity and the glandular tissue that creates it--i.e., functional bosomness. And a few hormones, too.

But wait, it's not really the bosom that's been outlawed--i.e., the [bulbousness + nipple] that make the package deal. The same nipple on a man, rendered bulbous, even given cleavage, is not a bosom. Yet, on Taylor post-operatively, it wasn't to be. Were the nipples pixelated because they were--not nipples--but topography trussed up by mammary glands? Not in Taylor's case. (Taylor had no mammary glands--just implants).

Faux bulbosity. Faux mammosity. Besides, it isn't just the female lactating nipple that can't be shown; it's all female nipples. And now, it appears the contraband also includes pretend female nipples. Unless they were created by a tattoo artist.

There are laws in some states that mandate "pasties" on areolae in strip clubs. I know, I know, I have enough trouble without going there, too. Yet, the mystery thickens when it's OK to place a nipple-sized piece of metal, plastic, or sequin on a nipple to stand in for the exact same-sized and same-shaped skin underneath. Is it pigmented skin that's the problem. Tattoos are pigment, so I guess not. Is it the nipple-proper itself, i.e., that protrusion in the center of the areolar where about 9 microscopic milk ducts converge to lactate? Is it OK to wear a pasty on just that central protuberance and let the rest of the areola shine on brightly? Probably not, legally.

But bulbosity isn't the issue. If one were to watch any re-runs of Baywatch, there is bulbos-a'plenty. It's allowed. Bulbosity above the nipples is fine, and that's called cleavage; cleavage is acceptable by broadcast standards and practices, unless it's the cleavage of someone's butt (another topic, another time). Bulbosity below the nipples if fine, too, although it approaches "the line" a bit, like side-breast ("Viewer discretion is advised"). Bulbosity above the nipples is PG-13. Bulbosity below the nipples or to the side is TV-14. But the dreaded female nipples themselves remain "X" on television, even though they're only "R" in movies.

Nevertheless, Taylor's areolae and nipples needing to be pixelated was obviously not because of her nipples or the areolae that house them, because they were the same nipples I saw before the Geico commercial. And it wasn't because of their new, aesthetically pleasing bulbosity, because I've seen many an actress's bulbosity lots of times in primetime. It wasn't the cleavage, either, because I've seen plenty of that, even on obese men, even on TV. When it comes to the FCC, is it that nipples just aren't that simple? Is there a complicated formula at work here that is used by the FCC to designate what is viewable and what is not? What is the titular algorithm? If the algorithm were to be printed out on paper, would it include a fold-out?

Nipples + bulbosity + cleavage + intentional allusion to female anatomy (original or neo-constructed) = no-go. And a hefty fine--just ask Janet Jackson with her hefty chest.

Is intentional allusion to female anatomy the key here? This would be an obvious sexual reference. Nipples cannot be shown if they're female and being used or intended for sex. But wait--Taylor wasn't having sex with her doctor. Maybe she did later, which would be a whole different documentary altogether, but there was definitely no sex during the entire nipplementory.

Is it that showing nipples, now portrayed on the her newly acquired female bulbosity, will make the TV viewer want to have sex with Taylor? Do her nipples risk salacious enticement for the viewer--what we call instigating prurient interest with no socially redeeming values. Well, not with that penis that we all know Taylor still has. Unless it makes another woman want to have trans-hetero-sex with Taylor and her penis, in spite of her male nipples but female bulbosity and cleavage. This is a different situation altogether, because keeping something salacious from the public, just because it might make someone think lascivious thoughts, smacks of making "thought police" acceptable. Is that OK, Big Brother?

No, evaluating the motivation of women wanting to have sex with Taylor, whether it were to invoke the "L" word or not, is not sexist. Let's face it, women are allowed to see other women's nipples. It's why the Ladies' Room is segregated from the Men's Room. On TV, though, since no one is allowed to see female-ish nipples, women are marginalized or, as my Catholic upbringing would say, "The good have to suffer with the bad."

What about a woman wanting to become a man? Is it the opposite pixelation strategy from the before-and-after shots from Taylor's documentary? Would the nipples remain pixelated after she has a breast reduction and testosterone-invoked facial hair? New regulatory ground, certainly. Bulbosity, gone; cleavage, gone; but let the rest shine, right? Once a female nipple, always a female nipple. A "gotcha" for the censor.

What if Taylor ends up regretting her transgender surgeries. If she goes back to the surgeon to be made male again, will her nipples be de-pixelated to their original presentation after removing the implants?

I guess I'm trying to make sense of why I can see nipples before a Geico commercial, but not the same exact nipples after. Does it have something to do with Geico? Every which way I am vexed and thwarted. And just when I'm about to lose it altogether, over nipples of all things, the only thing that makes sense finally dawns on me--my epipha'nip:

It's the government, stupid!

It doesn't need to make sense that nipples have been legislated away and areolae over-bureaucratized, so stop fretting over these two little hyperpigmented spots and their little central mounds of adenosquamous epithelium. When you see pixels, just use your imagination. That's not illegal...yet. And you should also realize that the only people the government assigns the duty to intervene, when it comes to nipples, are big boobs.


About the Creator

Gerard DiLeo

Now in Phase II of my life in Hull, MA. Tangential thinking, amygdaloid incentives, and hippocampal flashes from left to right on the page. (Phase I: New Orleans.)

email: [email protected]

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