Areolas, Nipples and Book Covers


It never occurred to me that nipples are pornographic in some eyes. I grew up looking at photos and paintings of nudes. I know figurative painters who think the nude, particularly the female, is the ideal subject. You can see bare breasts in places that are reasonably family rated. Given that babies, most babies, start off with a nipple in their mouths, it always seemed to me that nipples were natural. Yes they can also be erotic, but so is a lovely mouth puckered for a kiss.

There has been a fair amount of noise and posturing about erotica in recent months. Probably no more than normal, but this had to do with finance and credit card companies, or other folks, controlling what could be sold on web sites. Fortunately that mostly seems to have blown over, and like any serious storm, left some folks better off, some folks worse off and some about where they were. I find myself in this last class. It didn’t really bother me none, but that is a function of where I was in publishing at the time.

Recently I got into trouble over nipples, however. One nipple, actually. One indistinct, bare nipple that I had artfully blended into another photo to produce some clever effect. All my cleverness was blowed away, as that philosopher Popeye always said, when I learned that showing a nipple or areola was verbotten. Not done. Not allowed. I found it interesting the way both terms were used. So you could blot out the nipple, but unless you airbrushed the whole breast it still wouldn’t pass muster. At least that is my guess.

Always curious, I did some research and found some interesting things about that word. The meaning is “any circular area on the breast such as the colored skin surrounding the nipple. Although the term is most commonly used to describe the pigmented area around the human nipple (areola mammae), it can also be used to describe other small circular areas such as the inflamed region surrounding a pimple.”

Now that isn’t from the most authoritarian source in the universe, but Winkipedia, which sometimes serves for one.  I thought about protesting book covers showing people with pimples, just to show what a troublemaker I can be, but it was, in the end, easier to redo my cover, banishing the breast in favor of something possibly more erotic.

I don’t blame the folks who banned my cover design, by the way. I had missed the line item in the rules and they are simply reflecting the rather bizarre mores of our times, when it is fine to show carnage to preteens, and cartoons can have people throwing each other off cliffs, but you can’t show a picture of something as wholesome (in the true sense of that word) as a breast.

I never laid claim to being in step with my times though.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Samir says:

    It really is strange what people can get hung up on, and the extremes they go to just to make a point about it. It’s great that you just do your thing anyway, regardless 😉

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