Article: Pornhub’s TrickPics App Got Me Thinking About My Own Self-Censoring Nipples

Firstly, the exciting news:

As of yesterday, Pornhub has now released their own app called TrickPics which essentially allows you to cover your nipples, penis, or other erogenous zones with some tongue-in-cheek animations.

This app is a direct retaliation to the strict censorship rules of sites such as Instagram and to help create a get-around for anyone who wants to ‘bare all’ while also bare-ing in mind the reactions they might receive.

The Implications

Although this app covers up the apparently ‘offensive’ parts of a person’s body for those who object I can’t help but grin about the fact that they essentially replaced genitals with a great big middle finger. Body parts that might make people think of fucking might be obscured, but the ‘fuck you’ defiance of this app is alive and well.

This launch also got me to revisit the current internet policing of people’s bodies in my mind too, specifically the nipple fiasco.

It’s well-known by now that Instagram considers nipples to be its mortal enemy, to the point where nipples have practically become an icon of brave defiance.

But where do people stand when the absence of nipples is already part of their daily lives?

I’ve seen some incredibly commendable cancer survivors use their bodies to protest Instagram’s policies (and I commend these acts) but something I rarely see mentioned regarding Instagram (or anything really) is inverted nipples.

Time to change what.

What Are Inverted Nipples?

In the simplest sense inverted nipples are nipples that decided to be an innie instead of an outtie, to steal belly button terms.

Whereas most people’s nipples are pert and visible, inverted nipples are either partially or entirely retracted in to the breast.

Some people are born with inverted nipples, but there are other ways that this breast variation can be caused. These include things such as a disease, trauma, aging, and breastfeeding. When it comes to congenital inversion (where the nipples were inverted at birth) this is most commonly due to short milk ducks or a wide areola muscle.

Photo Credit: Rolltidemfos

There are also different degrees of inverted nipple, ranked by the difficulty of protracting the nipple. Grade 1 nipples can be easily retrieved with a little pinch and tug (oh behave!), Grade 2 can be pulled out up tends to easily retract again when the tug is released, and Grade 3 nipples are severely inverted, can rarely be pulled out, and can cause infections, rashes, and other forms of discomfort.

I was a Grade 3.

Apparently 10-20% of women are born with inverted nipples to some degree and the variation is very common, but this was news to me. Growing up I felt an incredible amount of shame when it came to my nipples.

Looking at all the women around me and seeing my mum’s reaction, I knew my nipples weren’t ‘normal’.

If we’re going to be more specific with grading I had one Grade 2 nipple (which matured in to a Grade 1) and one Grade 3, complicating matters even more. Like most girls, I was learning that my breasts were lop-sided, but the revelation was coming in an abnormal way.

No one I knew spoke about inverted nipples, no media really mentioned it. The closest I ever got was in my teen years where Chandler from Friends was revealed to have a ‘nubbin’—an extra nipple. It wasn’t the same but at least, finally, I had someone to relate to. I’d just veered on the other side of the spectrum.

But my teen years were also where I started noticing another alarming trend—people’s utter fascination with nipples. I cannot tell you how many 90’s shows and movies mentioned how under the right conditions a women’s nipples could be seen through their shirt, but I can tell you with certainty that the notion terrified me.

The prospect that my one ‘good nipple’ would get pert and be seen but that the other would stay retracted haunted me more than I’d like to admit. I worried about it whenever it was cold. I couldn’t stand the thought of being ‘exposed’.

I didn’t feel normal.

I’d like to say that, in time, I learnt to be happy with my nipples just as they were and confidently became an advocate for those with inverted nipples and others struggling with breast variations. But that would be a lie.

The truth is that I had cosmetic surgery to correct my Grade 3.

The surgery was partially paid for through the NHS and my parents were kind enough to fund the rest. The NHS deemed funding necessary; My nipple was prone to infection and irritation. It was uncomfortable and very difficult to keep fully clean. It wept as if it were manifesting how I felt about it. It had to be corrected.

That’s what I like to reassure myself with, but it’s not the reason I went through with the surgery. The true reason was that I hated how it looked, I hated how it made me feel, and I couldn’t embrace it, nor reconcile its existence in my mind.

The surgery itself was short and painless.

I have no regrets.

That being said, I do sometimes miss my inverted nipple.

Mr Peaches never got to see it, and my steps in to a relationship were part of my motivation to change my nipple sooner rather than later.

Looking back I’m not sure how I feel about this, but I do know something.

When I got to see the nipple that had hidden inside of my body I did eventually learn to love it.

Surgery is never perfect and my nipple wasn’t suddenly better for being tugged out of hiding.

It looks constantly perky, and still contrasts to my Grade 1 inverted nipple. It’s got its own distinct appearance and still leave me lop-sided. But without the pain and the fear that I felt as a child this variation feels like something I can make peace with.

My Grade 3 11+ years after surgery.

I love my nipples and I refuse to punish myself too harshly for getting to a point where I can say that, even if I do feel conflicted about my motivations from time-to-time.

But, now I wonder:

What place to inverted nipples have on Instagram?

Technically a Grade 3 inverted nipple is not going to show any nipple at all. It is, essentially, self-censoring and its existence naturally acts to defy the clear-cut lines of body policing and shaming that Instagram are trying to maintain.

While I would never be as brazen to suggest that someone try to flaunt an aspect of themselves that I could barely confront in private, it is my hope that these debates can allow some individuals a new way to navigate their own concerns when it comes to inverted nipples.

I felt alone when I was younger, but I can assure you that I wasn’t alone then and you’re not alone now.

The more we show nipples of all shapes and sizes, the more we reassure people that their own bodies are natural, normal, and worth considering (if not immediately accepting). And, although I’m not sure where Pornhub’s app will fall in terms of fighting censorship, I do hope that it will keep conversations like this alive.