They’re just nipples.



We’d been all marvelling at the incredible grandeur of the house’s gowns until a stylist’s decision insinuated that there was something to hide.

Certainly, in an every day commercial context, it’s a bit of a different story. The day before fashion week started, I caught the subway out to a shoot job past Prospect Park (Brooklyn) in a tank, no bra, and a skirt that covered my ankles. I spent the 500m walk from the subway exit to the studio door flipping off more counts of this commentary than words I’d spoken to anyone between landing in NY and getting dressed that morning. And I’m a small nerdy Asian girl.

Some mornings later came the indecision of whether I ought to wear a nude or black bra under this lacy Zimmermann affair. Should it look as if I wasn’t wearing a bra, or should I make a point that I was wearing a bra to avoid any unwelcome confusion? Like Marchesa’s nipple pasties, would the black bra make sexual what was not actually sexual? I thought myself in circles about succumbing to social pressures and ended up going with the black based purely on aesthetics, and because it was actually a bikini top.

My mother still texted me in capital letters the minute I Instagram-ed it, though.


On the flipside, my legend of a guide, Youssef, who I travelled with for two weeks in Morocco also had it right. In conversation from Chefchaouen to the edge of the Sahara, we talked about headscarves and covering up. Why would a woman even need to share her body with anybody but the partner she cares abouthe mused. Self-expression? I offered, somewhat lamely.

So it’s settled.

Society at large isn’t ready for boobs.

I’m probably not ready for boobs.

Vent your spleen.

LOOK 1 wearing Zimmermann Arcadia Knot Lace Blouse, Her the Label Bikini Top, Tibi Suede Wrap Skirt, Cmeo Collective Union Pant, Senso Roxi II Heels, BOYY Lucas Bag

LOOK 2 & 3 from Marchesa’s SS16 show at the St Regis Hotel in New York

LOOK 4 from TOME’s SS16 show at Skylight Clarkson Sq in New York (featuring Gentle Monster sunglasses)

LOOK 5 from Delpozo’s SS16 show at Pier 60 in New York

LOOK 6 from Wes Gordon’s SS15 show at Milk Studios in New York

*unfortunately, this does still happen at times in fashion, as it does in other creative and non-creative fields, and it’s going to take a lot more than #freethenipple to overcome that.

  • BK
  • cienna

    your photos are beautiful, your words are beautiful, you are beautiful. Anything you can’t do, Margaret?

  • Chir Wey

    ‘My mother would text me in capitals’
    Yes, my mother would as well. Add that and some eyes rolling.

    I think you’ve pointed out how I have personally felt about the #freethenipple movement. Thanks for the nice post.

    Chir Wey

  • You look amazing in that outfit, Margaret! Really well-written article too. I really think we should stop making a big fuss of boobs because they’re just that. Boobs. I mean, everyone has them, right? So why are we so offended by our own anatomy? It still puzzles me. I’m still waiting for the day where we can stroll outside with just a shirt and sans bra and it would be perfectly acceptable. #freethenipple

  • mcboodles

    I’ve vented my spleen, and pancreas, and all my other organs to make room for more boobs.

  • Danny Blanton

    The community who make up the ‘fashion world’ seem to be so focused on innovation and forward motion that a common societal boundary or even an innate taboo maybe becomes an attractive point of differentiation for an ambitious designer or one stumped on their new collection. ‘Fashion’ wants to dress men more like women creating avant-garde garments that articulate the architecture of a feminine framed male, while simultaneously exposing more and more the modestly of the female form that garments done well usually accent instead of showcase.
    It doesn’t surprise me that an industry mostly made of individuals who enjoy and prefer ‘male company’ (both male and female that is) cannot relate to the obvious sexuality of the female form. There is an innocent allure grounded in sexuality to the form of a woman that all men relate to. That reason alone is why all natural forces are referred to in the female sense… Women by no means should be penalized for this as they most definitely are as you saw in Morocco and North Africa, but we also cannot deny that sexuality is a joint definition, made by both the involved sexes together not each to their own.

  • Lulu

    Male nipples: All babies develop the same way for the first 6 weeks and this is (for reasons unknown to me) based on a female template. Then at 6 weeks in testosterone kicks in but too late – nipples are already built into the template. No idea why female is used as the base template – not a science student by any means – also not 100% why I know this.

    • This phenomen is called “basic femaleness” and the reason behind it is that the female genome is build of two X chromosoms, the male organism has just one X and one Y Chromosom. The Y Chromosom gets activated in the sixth week, as you said. The first six weeks the body just recognizes the one X chromosome and thinks: “Hey guuurl.”
      Story of the male nipple.

  • I saw your outfit at the Zimmermann show during NYFW:P Love it<3

    Shall We Sasa

  • I really love your way of writing and how you share your opinion! Great blog :)

  • I really don’t understand Instagram’s no nipple policy. Naomy Campbel tried to stop them with that picture of her, but they removed it. I’ll never understand that kind of sexism. Nipple is nipple no matter if it belongs to man or a woman, just treat it equal!

  • carla

    Love the outfit! fashion bloguer

  • jovana citic

    I agree that people are not ready yet for too much boobs. I have to compliment you for writing, Love

  • Eerika

    Wise words… I really love your (Zimmerman) look !!!

    Dreams and Sunshine

  • I agree with your stance on wearing the black bra under the lace Margaret. Unless you want people to think you’re stark naked underneath it all – then you’re better off wearing a bold bra to just make the statement that you are covering up! I always debate – nude bra or black bra and black always wins.

    I love reading your posts – always make me think.

    Helen xx

  • Refiloe

    So many different layers to the issue of female ‘nudity’. Do we accept that boobs are inherently different to male nipples because they serve a different purpose and are thus ‘sexual organs’, or do we bash that conception and view everyone’s nipples as nipples that shouldn’t require any form of cover up or sexualisation? I agree that there’s a long way to go, and even if I’m also “not ready for boobs”, I’m glad we’re starting to think differently about certain normalisations.

    Thanks for not being a superficial blogger and actually making me think about stuff other than your ootd, Margaret. Thank you

  • Shante Gumede

    I’m south African , and In the Zulu culture, when a young woman (that is teenager or young adult who isn’t married or have any kids, preferably a virgin) wears traditional wear , she is expected to show her breasts – during the ceremony or whatever event it is. Nipple and all. Because it shows pride. I’m sure if I had to post such a picture on Instagram , my account would be suspended. lol. It still makes me uncomfortable though, despite the fact that it is a part of my culture. I would never do it. All about perspective I guess. each man to his own. Fashion is after all , SELF expression. I have nothing to do with the way you choose to express yourself. I would opt for the black bra too.

    • inubiyamarsha

      RESPECT THE Culture… “I would never do it” why are you too so modernised or more so suffer from westernisation and euro-centric learnings. I see you have assimilated well. Cheers!

      • Shante Gumede

        I’m not sure where you got the idea from that I don’t respect the culture. You don’t know me, so I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion that I suffer from westernization. I am conservative , and I don’t see why that moves you so much. Like I said, each man to his own. share your opinion if you may, but please go be ignorant somewhere else if you can’t RESPECT another’s views. Since RESPECT is such a huge thing for you, ironically.

        • inubiyamarsha

          Well, then ignorance can spot another, I see you are gifted in that area.

  • Malena

    Love these photos!

    X Malena

  • Nipples, we love ’em and fear ’em! I Love the photos Margaret!

  • Although I find that everyone should have the right to express themselves, I do agree with Instagram’s decision to ban all (female?) nipples. Because if not it becomes too subjective to decide when a nipple is pornographic or not.

  • I think you’re right. Society isn’t really ready for #freethenipple. I am though, but I realize the rest of the world isn’t. I don’t however, understand why you said that the movement hinges on sexual aggression. That part you lost me. Womens’ nipples serve a different purpose that those of men, but that purpose is nursing is that sensual in nature? If that’s where you were going with that, I have to say your argument weakens there.

    Otherwise, nice article.

    M.Dee | Duty Free

  • Love the way you create a brilliant visual picture with your writing style…..Just wanted to be there at that sartorial meeting of great fashion minds! X

  • Love the good read, and your style is so damn amazing, every time.


  • It feels like an American culture thing to me. They invented Nipplegate, when an incident like that would hardly make the news in the Netherlands (I doubt in the rest of Europe either). Topless sunbathing is commonplace and it would be hard to shock anyone on the streets just by exposing certain body parts. It always struck me as weird that exploding body parts would receive a lower film rating than a booby flash. Apparently, the latter can do more harm to the development of frail little kids ;-) . That said, I do find it a bit annoying myself when boobs (and sex in general) are only used, because it’s possible. For instance, I’m watching a series and out of nowhere there’s a boob or a penis or whatever (and in the context it doesn’t make any sense at all why this person is suddenly naked). I have no boob fear that I know of, but in this case I can’t help but roll my eyes.
    Your outfit here is perfection: sexy, but classy. Like a modern-day Audrey Hepburn.

  • Natalie Fraumeni

    Absolutely breathtaking, in love with the cotton candy gown!

    Check out my blog!

  • Weston James Palmer

    It’s really simple really. As much as I am for #freethenipple we have all the people in the world who have no boundaries….The ones who post pornographic girls into an audience that should not necessarily see them. I am all for freedom, art and expression, but not in a place where as simple as looking up a hashtag reveals pornographic material. I am in no means a strict guy, but we have to protect the youth from being influenced the wrong way from a young age. I’ll end on this, I have always respected and been a fan of someone who can pull something off with out crossing the line. As an example, a film director making you think someone is using profanity, but they actually are not. Tasteful.

    There is a time and place to be raw and I believe it is a place where people can find you if they want, not put in front of you without your permission.

  • Pandora Sykes

    The debate’s been going around for a while now, but I enjoy what you’ve added to it. And you look great!

  • Maria Marques

    Nothing wrong with showing some nipple. They’re still there just covered 99% of the time! Oh well…

    Amazing post, btw!
    Love, Marie Roget

  • Shivan Patel (Gathum)

    interesting read..i experience the same thing my first show at fashion week, but i guess adjusted to it by now

    love u btw <3

    check me out on

  • LabMassiv

    Everyone goes after Instagram, but Apple is the one who sets the guideline. You can’t be on an Apple phone in the general category in the app store and show nipples. It’s super simple. It has been Apple’s policy since day one.

  • neha goyal

    Wonderful Outfits! Thank you for sharing it.

  • neha goyal

    This is a great blog. Thank you for sharing it.


Margaret Zhang 章凝 is an Australian-born-Chinese filmmaker, photographer, consultant and writer based between New York and Shanghai. Since establishing her website in 2009, Zhang has gone on to work with global brands including CHANEL, Swarovski, YEEZY, Bulgari, Gucci, MATCHES, Under Armour, and Louis Vuitton in a wide range of capacities both in front of and behind the camera, while completing her Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws at The University of Sydney. Zhang’s directing, photography, and styling has been employed by the likes of VOGUE, L’Officiel, Harper’s BAZAAR, NOWNESS, and ELLE internationally. She has been listed in Forbes Asia’s 30Under30 and TimeOut’s 40Under40, and her work has been recognized as shaping the international fashion industry by the Business of Fashion BoF500 Index for four consecutive years. CNN has identified Zhang as a leading fashion photographer in Asia and ELLE named her the region’s most influential digital voice. She went on to be the first Asian face to cover ELLE Australia. In 2016, she co-founded BACKGROUND, a global consultancy for which she specialises in Western-to-Chinese and Chinese-to-Western cultural bridging for a range of luxury, lifestyle, and brand initiatives. In 2017, she exhibited a series of 39 unseen photographic works as a solo show in Sydney, and premiered her first short film – a 15-minute exploration of her visceral relationship with classical music on both performance and abstract planes – to critical acclaim. In 2018, co-curated the first annual FOREFRONT Summit focused on inter-industry problem-solving at all scales of business. From this king summit, Zhang developed FOREFRONT+ – a round table series of candid conversations covering subject matters of universal concern. In 2019, THE FACE Magazine engaged Zhang as Creative-Director-at-Large for Asia for its relaunch. Zhang is currently working on her first feature film.


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