Back in May, all model Melina DiMarco wanted to do was post a damn nude on Instagram. But of course, Instagram wasn't making it easy.
When she'd post one that showed her nipples, she was hit by restrictions, and when she'd cover them up with cutesy stickers like rainbows or hearts, she didn't think it looked right; it wasn't her. This was her body after all, shouldn't she have the agency to show it as she pleased?
"Not only was I getting over-sexualized comments but I was very restricted by how I published the images," DiMarco said in an interview with Mic. "It got me thinking: Why do I have to do this but my male counterpart does not?" referring to the way that people who Instagram reads as male are allowed to show nipples.
Through her frustration, she thought of ways she could combat this issue, and landed on the idea of creating the photo-editing app Nood, which covers nipples and private parts with, well, nipples and private parts. More specifically, illustrated nipples and private parts.
"I thought about what the real issue is here and I knew that the way that the female form was being perceived was wrong," DiMarco said, referring to the way people whose bodies are viewed as female get policed. "I was like OK, I can't post what I want, so what if I post nipples on top of nipples?"
So, say you want to post a picture of yourself, lounging on the floor with no clothes at all.
This is what it would look like with the Nood treatment:
Two tiny stickers to cover the nipples and one sticker to cover "the lady bits." The woman above isn't nude, exactly, but still celebrating her body for what it looks like, pubic hair and all.
"The use of the app is meant to be temporary. I wanted to make this statement of nipples on nipples and at some point, social media is going to need to revise their policies," DiMarco said. "The hope is that if you see the female form or the body with these stickers, maybe the body can be desexualized."
The stickers themselves can also be adjusted in size, and be styled as to have hair or no hair at all.
"I hope that it will allow women to see that there is no shame in how they choose to express their bodies," DiMarco said. "Whether you want to post these photos or you don't, you shouldn't be restricted in any way. There's nothing wrong with being nude. It's about changing that perception of how we view the female form."
In addition to nipples and pubic area covers, DiMarco has also designed stickers that resemble C-section scars, mastectomy scars, period blood and breast milk, all things that are stigmatized and rarely seen on social media.
"I'm really hoping it's an app for all people," DiMarco said. "Women who are more modest can use stickers that aren't necessarily the nipples, and people who don't identify as women can too."
With this app, people would have the ability to be as naked as Instagram allows — if the app ever gets accepted, of course. The Apple app store rejected it due to "objectionable material," so DiMarco is now petitioning for it to be accepted on Change.org. DiMarco also submitted Nood to Android's Google Play, but it got rejected there too.
The main issue, according to her, is the stigma against women's bodies.
"It's kind of a really confusing thing," DiMarco said. "After the rejection and looking in both stores, there's a lot of apps that over-sexualize women and even when I inquired on putting a maturity rating on the app, it was denied. It's a positive application that's meant to empower women. It's always kind of assumed that the female body is sexual and I couldn't even tell you why. It's confusing to me."
Although the app has been rejected, DiMarco is optimistic about its chances. The app, after all, is only meant to spark a larger conversation and body positivity and censorship.
"I think I have to be optimistic about it. I think if enough people are interested in the app, we have an opportunity to make a statement," DiMarco said. "Regardless as how soon it gets in, I think Nood serves as a movement for body positivity."