A Durban woman who was snapped at a popular nightclub in an outfit that bared her breasts has stirred up a heated debate on social media – with some critical of her but others hailing her as an ambassador of the “free the nipple” movement. 

Andiswa Luthuli has been hailed as an ambassador of the “free the nipple” movement. Credit: FACEBOOK

The movement is named after the 2014 movie by Lina Esco, who also founded the movement. It has resulted in protests in several countries including America, the UK and Iceland where the call is growing for nipples to be treated equally for men and women.

Andiswa Luthuli, who declined to give her age, has now brought the debate home through her attire, which also speaks to a growing international feminist movement to “free the nipple”.

Luthuli was photographed on Monday at a township club wearing a see-through top which shows her breasts.

It went viral on social media after it was posted on the popular uMlazi haunt, Eyadini Lounge’s Facebook page.

The picture was shared more than 2 200 times within a day and received more than 7 000 likes and thousands of comments within the same period, some of which were positive and others negative.

The Young Independents is not showing Luthuli’s nipples because in the past pictures with bare breasts have caused problems on our Facebook account.

“This is my body, I do what I want,” Luthuli said.

She said she had previously gone braless for a breast cancer awareness campaign and found exposing her breasts a liberating experience.

She encouraged other women to also show off their breasts.

Addressing some of the criticism on Facebook she said: “I did not drink any alcohol and the people I was with will tell you that I was drinking juice the whole time.”

She added that she felt comfortable while wearing the outfit and travelled to the venue with an Uber cab.

Luthuli, originally of Maphumulo, about 123km north of Durban, said her phone had been ringing non-stop since the pictures went viral.

And she is not fazed by the negative comments. If anything, they have motivated her to wear what she wants and inspire other women to dress how they felt.

Chairwoman of Agenda Feminist Media, Janine Hicks, said: “What women wear and don’t wear is a politicised issue. There are still gendered norms and values in our societies.” 

She said when women did not conform to what society expected of them they become victims of criticism, were attacked and became victims of violence.

She said there were places in uMlazi where women were not allowed to wear pants and would be attacked if they did so.

She said it was an indication of how skewed society was.

However, she was positive that change was taking place.

She used the example of the LGTIBQ (Lesbian Gay Transgender Intersex Bisexual and Queer) community who less than 20 years ago had to hide their sexuality, but today no longer had to.

Sheila Fihliwe Faku, a commissioner for the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, said before colonisation, the way African women dressed was not seen in a sexual way, nor were they seen as objects of sexual pleasure.

Faku said a woman should be proud of her body and nowadays the “freedom of young women is being tampered with”.

#FreeTheNipple: To the people who argue that Luthuli should have covered up because it was immoral of her to dress like that, Faku said morals had nothing to do with a body.

“She is proud of who she is… We are being colonised too much… why do we have to be defined by other people?” Faku said.

She said it was not only girls, but boys also, could dress in ways which showed pride in who they were without being sexualised. 

Being topless was also practised in traditional ceremonies like the reed dance festival, uMkhosi woMhlanga at King Zwelithini’s palace in Nongoma, with thousands of young maidens taking part.

Traditional weddings and coming of age ceremonies (umemulo) are also practised topless.

– Daily News

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