The #FreeTheNipple movement has succeeded.

To every feminist who supported this global campaign for change; to all who spoke up for for a woman’s basic right to independently reveal or conceal her own body as a man can, without fear of sexualisation, persecution or abuse: proof, at long last, that the world was listening.

The nipple has been freed.
All of them. From all of us. Nobody saw them escape. Nobody knows why.

To this day, the world’s leading experts cannot explain how every nipple on Earth could simultaneously awaken and ascend to the heavens unnoticed; how, in this age of scientific understanding and unparalleled video surveillance, two little pieces of each of us could seemingly evaporate undetected like tiny droplets into the clouds.

Those of us left behind, confused and nippleless in this earthly purgatory, now find ourselves united by the same super-weird sense of loss.

For the #FreeTheNipple movement’s champions, reluctantly celebrating a victory they never asked for, so many questions linger unanswered. Could those hashtags have been worded a little more clearly? Could we have anticipated that a higher power would have no understanding of metaphor?

But progress can take many shapes and forms. Within hours of The Event, censorship as we know it breaks down. The arbitrary barrier between decent and indecent exposure is no longer clear. Local magistrates, media editors and Instagram moderators collectively throw up their hands in resignation. Those who enforce institutionalised sexism are just as weirded out by this as the rest of us.

How do our newborn remain nourished? Nobody knows, but rumours stir: the nipples return by night to feed our young. The innocent are being protected. Ergo, the guilty are being watched. Judged. Our actions have consequences again. Acts of kindness begin to flourish; first out of fear, then out of habit.

Only in their absence can the world finally agree that nipples are just nipples. But now they are no longer ours to hide, each of us begins to quietly wonder if they were something more.

One only needs to look upward toward the gigantic Saturnian ring that now encircles the Earth: billions of liberated fragments of humanity – every race, every gender, every identity – combined in a glorious pink-and-brown-hued monument. No longer censorable. Forever out of reach of sexualisation or judgement. A permanent reminder that we can do better.

Some say the nipples will return in our time of greatest need. Others say we need to earn their trust again. In the here and now, we can only try our hardest and hope for the best.

The nipple is free. Long live the nipple.