This is a post (mainly) about nipples

This post includes links that are NSFW

If you follow me on twitter and were online in the early hours of Christmas morning 2011 (GMT), you may have noticed @LeaBecca, @jolantru and I discussing nipples. In particular colonialism, body politics and how they affect nipple colour. You may want to read their write ups on the topic before continuing, Body Politics and White Skin, Pink Nipples.

So now you know that there is a ‘right’ colour of nipples. And that there are bleaching creams available to turn brown nipples lighter even as there are ‘brightening’ creams for the face and the body. That pink nipples are a sign of innocence and lack of sexual knowledge.

When I reblogged this anime style drawing of a brown-skinned, female character on Tumblr, I wrote ‘Finally the artist got the right nipple colour!’ because at that moment it struck me just how often I’d seen brown- and dark-skinned anime style characters drawn with pale, pink-ish nipples. There’s been a lot of discussion on how ethnicity is presented in anime and manga, on the ‘race’ of characters in anime and manga. It is relatively rare to see characters with darker skin tones in anime and manga, nevertheless they exist and several people of colour who enjoy watching anime and reading manga across the globe are happy that they exist.

But what happens when your favourite brown-skinned character takes of his or her clothes to reveal pink nipples? Take for example, this image of Miyuki from the anime Basquash!. What would you think? Initially, I thought this suggested that the brown-skinned characters are actually white-skinned characters in blackface. The implications of imperialism and body politics that affect brown-skinned women did not occur to me at that point. I was genuinely confused, I understand some brown-skinned characters look tanned (and are supposed to be tanned) but why would you draw a brown-skinned character that has locs or a huge Afro and colour their nipples pink?

The first time I recall noticing pink nipples on a brown-skinned character was when I came across one doujinshi with characters from Code Geass by Nekomata Naomi, a female hentai mangaka. When I saw the manga, ‘Brown New Wife’, I barely registered that the new wife had brown skin and pink nipples on the cover (mostly because I was squeeing over Nekomataya being a female hentai mangaka). I must have laughed shaking my head and wondered if these artists had seen brown women topless before? Or who knows there could be brown women with pink nipples in this world. I convinced myself that it was a one time thing. I did not want to ‘overreact’ and basically silenced my own criticism.

I joined Tumblr recently and it did not take long for me to come across this photo blog dedicated to brown-skinned females in anime. As I went through the archives and saw that when they were shown, most of the brown-skinned characters had pink nipples I grew disturbed. I was confused and not entirely sure how to react, so I saved the pictures for later discussion.

That was until I saw the art I reblogged. I was surprised at how relieved I felt to see that at least one artist got the colouring things right. I believe it was at that point that I decided it was okay to say something. I am glad that @LeaBecca and @jolantru had things to say as well. As I mentioned above, most of my earlier thoughts revolved around blackface. I wondered if all brown-skinned characters in anime, doujinshi and art are actually white-skinned characters in blackface or tans? I briefly entertained the idea that all of us brown-skinned people who have adored brown-skinned characters in anime and manga have been hoodwinked.

I still do not understand why an artist would draw a brown-skinned character and colour their nipples pink but now I know how they conform to white supremacist ideals by doing so. In a world that regularly extols white skin, straight hair, skinny figures, and now pink nipples, as beauty ideals colouring a brown-skinned character’s nipples pink plays into the idea that there is something wrong with the natural tones of brown-skinned women.

12 thoughts on “This is a post (mainly) about nipples

  1. Even if you’ve never seen a naked black woman before, it doesn’t really make sense to draw them with nipples lighter than their skin tone.

    Thanks for pointing it out, I never really noticed it before.

  2. OMG, I was going to write a whole blog post about this. It’s crazy because EVERY. SINGLE. JAPANESE. girl out there has BROWN nipples and BROWN labia. How do I know this? I watch a lot of Japanese porn.

    EVERY. SINGLE. ANIME GIRL in Japanese porn has PINK NIPPLES and PINK labia. How do I know this? I watch a lot of hentai porn.

    Who in this world has predominantly pink nipples and pink labia? WHITE WOMEN.

    1. I’d love to see your post on this! It seems the nipple bleaching creams are a Japanese version too. I always thought there were Japanese women with brown and pink nipples etc.

      Who in this world has predominantly pink nipples and pink labia? WHITE WOMEN.

      This why white supremacist beauty ideals may be playing out here.

  3. this is really interesting/disturbing. I knew about skin bleaching but not about about bleaching of private parts.

  4. I remember reading a manga (i forgot which one but it was by Keiko Suenobu) and heard about the old wives tale about pink nipples= purity and all that and had to laugh because. Me being a virgin and being a dark skinned Black woman yeah it was funny.

    And yes the tanned girls/ganguro. They confuse me a lot. That is why I like when they mention it or give clues to whether a character is tanned or gaijin. It also helps with the hair, like the Gym trainer in Pokemon. Basquash! Is set in a multi-racial place Miyuki has locs clearly note that she is black and not just tanned despite her name. And of course Michiko to Hatchin is set in Brazil and Michicko and Atsuko despite their Japanese first names are Afro-Brazillian.

    But yeah it’s weird as hell to colour the nipple pink. If these mangaka want some ebony porn to use as references I would be more than happy to send them links until they get it right

    1. I can’t even begin to understand how pink nipples = purity.

      Hair does help but these days I’m not even sure. You know with the B-kei and Japanese people walking around in real life with braids and dreadlocks. Yeah it was pretty obvious to me too that Miyuki was Black, then again her grandfather wasn’t which suggested that she’s of mixed ethnicities. And yes Michiko to Hatchin is set in a country that is reminiscent of Brazil and I noticed a lot of the characters had non-Japanese surnames regardless of their first names. Like Atsuko Jackson, it does suggest mixed heritage.

      If these mangaka want some ebony porn to use as references I would be more than happy to send them links until they get it right

      Lol! This reminds me of a discussion I took part in on Black women in Japanese porn. They do exist, google Ebony Gisele, so these mangaka have no excuses!

      1. I assumed the reason that they had Japanese first names is so Japanese audience could relate to them better or could pronounce their names easier if that makes sense? (I mean yeah I know they are Japanese Brazilians)

        1. You know, I had not considered that! And it does make sense. I’m reading a story with a Japanese Brazilian hero and he has the same Japanese+Portuguese name, except the Japanese name is his surname.

  5. The thing that I find share, and here’s a thought, that a good chunk of Asian men and women have dark-colored nipples too.

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