Scout Willis Explains Topless Protest, Speaks Out on Instagram's Nipple Censorship

Celebrity Body Jun. 2, 2014 AT 11:15AM
Scout Willis attends an event on April 4, 2014 Scout Willis wrote a column for xoJane about her recent topless protest against Instagram's nipple censorship. Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Scout Willis has become the new poster child for nipples. The 22-year-old daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore made major waves last week when she strolled through New York City topless as a form of protest. 

The recent Brown University graduate shared photos of herself on the city streets sans-top, writing "What @instagram won't let you see. #FreeTheNipple" and "Legal in NYC but not on @instagram."

The protest came after both Willis' and Rihanna's accounts were disabled by Instagram after they each posted photos that exposed nipples. 

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The celebrity offspring and activist penned a column on Jane Pratt's lifestyle site xoJane this week to explain her actions. 

"Earlier last week I decided to do something kind of crazy," she wrote. "Instagram had recently deleted my account over what they called 'instances of abuse.' Which in reality amounted to a photo of myself in a sheer top and a post of a jacket I made featuring a picture of two close friends topless. For these instances of abuse, I was politely informed that I would no longer be welcome in the Instagram community."

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"My situation was in no way unique; women are regularly kicked off Instagram for posting photos with any portion of the areola exposed, while photos sans nipple—degrading as they might be—remain unchallenged," she continued. "So I walked around New York topless and documented it on Twitter, pointing out that what is legal by New York state law is not allowed on Instagram."

Credit: Courtesy of Scout Willis

Willis went on to call the protest "an opportunity for dialogue" and lamented the fact that "unfortunately the emphasis in the press has been on sensationalizing my breasts, chiefly in terms of my family."

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She also heralded the work of other nipple activist groups and framed the issue in terms of equality. 

"There are also some people who would criticize my choice to relate nipples with equality at all. To me, nipples seem to be at the very heart of the issue. In the 1930s, men’s nipples were just as provocative, shameful, and taboo as women’s are now, and men were protesting in much the same way," Willis wrote. "Men fought and they were heard, changing not only laws but social consciousness. And by 1936, men’s bare chests were accepted as the norm. So why is it that 80 years later women can’t seem to achieve the same for their chests? Why can’t a mother proudly breastfeed her child in public without feeling sexualized?… Why should I feel overly exposed because I choose not to wear a bra? Why would it be okay with Instagram and Facebook to allow photos of a cancer survivor who has had a double mastectomy and is without areolas but 'photos with fully exposed breasts, particularly if they’re unaffected by surgery, don’t follow Instagram’s Community Guidelines.'"

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Willis completed her piece by clarifying that she isn't "trying to argue for mandatory toplessness, or even brainlessness," but "a woman's right to choose how she represents her body." 

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