The first thing that crossed my mind when Samantha Jones passed around her fake nipples at a cocktail party was the question of adhesion. Did they stick to the skin like Band-Aids or was there a suction-cup element?
The next queries were ones of practicality and logistics: Couldn’t you just as easily wear your own nipples? If you were to remove your shirt in front of someone who might not know there was something other than a bra accessorizing your northern region, would you have to give a courtesy heads up? Are they portable? Washable? Reusable? Where do you store them? But I never once wondered “what is the point,” because there are two points — left and right — staring at this screen right now as I type.
For one week and three days longer than I even meant to, I wore fake nipples for the sake of an article, quickly finding that I felt naked without them.
You must have so many questions!
These fake nipples — far prettier than the ones that Miranda Hobbes borrowed from Sam, with pearls in the center of fabric, flower-shaped areolas — came to me by way of my friend Molly Borman, the brain behind “Just Nips for All.” She started making the nipples for aesthetic purposes/a conversation starter with the future goal of parlaying Just Nips for All into a community of women who celebrate their bodies. I’m down with body celebration and think the idea of fake nipples is hilarious. That tends to be enough to get me to try something.
They come in two colors (white for light tops, black for dark shirts in the presence of camera flashes) and two sizes (“cold” and “freezing”). You can wear them sans bra, over your own nipples if you want the look but prefer extra coverage under sheer tops. Or, you can do as I did: a bra-wearer through-and-through (I like my chest up-and-at-em, thank you), I stuck the petals to a pink balconette that I was otherwise ready to retire. I also plucked the top pearls off their bases for a rounded rather than pointy effect. Following that, I got dressed and entered the wild.
My first few experiments were conducted in New York City. Lev, my roommate, was the first person who I consulted. He’s the kind of friend who says things like, “That outfit is…interesting,” and, “you look like a pirate going clubbing.” The nipples baffled him.
“I have never encountered this before,” he told me.
“Nipples?” I asked.
(He’s seen nipples before, he clarified.) “I’ve never had a friend ask me what I thought of them.”
I had a date that night and Lev told me that the nipples plus the original shirt I was wearing — pink and very fitted — was “kind of aggressive.” He doesn’t like to say these kinds of things because he is very sex- and body-positive! “But yeah, it’s a little distracting.” He was right, and I wasn’t wearing these to snag leering men, so I changed into a less obvious option. My date did not comment and I’m not trying to Taylor Swift my dates, so for this particular anecdote, the end! However, to answer what I wondered of Samantha Jones’ artificial variety:
+ They stick like Band-Aids to skin and fabric.
+ Yes, of course you could wear your own if you wanted.
+ I would give someone a heads up before getting naked, situation depending. You do what feels best.
+ They’re not reusable if you attach them to skin but they stayed put on my bra marvelously.
The nipples made their very grand debut at Man Repeller’s internal breakfast to celebrate the launch of our pop-up shop. I wore a tight red shirt; no hiding them on this day. I announced their presence to every single member of Team MR mere seconds after I asked them to consider if they, “noticed anything different about me.” Everyone agreed they really were something. That night, I wore them to our launch party. Friends in attendance who worked in the industry told me they hadn’t noticed the second set of eyes watching them (no one wears bras in this crowd and exposed nipples might as well be noses on the runway). They mostly wondered why I was also wearing a bra, to which I was like, let me live my life.
It was most obvious on the street while running errands. No one was pervy about the nips, but I watched as eyes dropped to my chest and then quickly back up again, followed by really intense, overly polite eye contact — the kind I imagine colleagues who wind up in those Russian bath houses naked together by accident might make.
I took the nipples to Paris for Fashion Week. No surprise: no one commented, no one’s eyes drifted, no one cared. I called all of the attention to them and invited friends to poke the pearls while we waited for shows to begin. I explained that I prefer support but like the look of a bare chest, hence the nips, and they agreed this was a neat solution. A few said they wanted to try them.
On my final day, I wore a top that looks better without a bra. I left my jacket at home, it was cold, you could tell. I was so much more comfortable than I’ve ever been before in that situation. It felt like, HELLO WORLD. The pearls were like exhibitionist-light training wheels. Without the pearlescent protection over two of my prized possessions, I was certainly more vulnerable. I couldn’t hide behind novelty or the punchline of a story. Is this what they mean when they say authentic?
But here I am, writing about fake nipples on an airplane in a giant sweater, on my way home to greet an empty apartment, and purely for fun, I am wearing a pair. Proof that everything is a canvas for superfluous accessories? Sure, why not. It’s also a good reminder that there doesn’t have to be a point to everything. Not if there’s two of them.
iPhone photos by Amelia Diamond; product photos by Tory Rust.