Apple’s App Store does not allow people to submit “objectionable material”—in other words, content that’s offensive, insensitive, upsetting, intended to disgust, or in exceptionally poor taste. Yet, one quick scroll through the store and you’ll find things like Perfect Girlfriend!, an app featuring a virtual woman who responds to touch. Dirtymoji is another misogynistic masterpiece offering emoji versions of various sex positions and boobs. Oh, and lest we forget Tickle Her Free—Brunette Edition. (Google it if the name doesn’t quite spell it out for you.) So imagine self-described “vagina advocate” Melina DiMarco’s surprise when Nood, a photo-editing app that covers users’ nether regions via anatomically correct illustrations (think a nipple with a hair sprouting out, a vagina not waxed to pre-pubescent perfection, C-section scars, and even drops of period blood), was rejected by the forward-thinking tech company.
All the while, DiMarco, who also works as a model for MSA (you may have spotted her in those Thinx ads on the subway), was simply trying to combat the glaringly sexist guidelines imposed by Instagram. While DiMarco wasn’t reported for her nude photos—many of which were artistic shots captured during professional photoshoots—she said she was hit with over-sexualized comments and disapproval from her family. “I realized my nipple was the same as a male nipple, and yet I had to put an ‘X’ on it,” she said. “I just didn’t understand why. It just seemed so negative.” DiMarco added that much of her frustration largely stemmed from her art background, much of which consisted of drawing nude bodies. “I was trying to figure out why the female body is being perceived this way and why,” she explained. “When a woman is naked, she’s always considered sexual. I think that frustration led to me being like, Okay, I need to find a solution here. I’m going to put nipples on nipples.” Her aim is simple: to give women a chance to represent their bodies on their own terms. But most of all, she said, “it’s a statement of how ridiculous and hypocritical these rules and guidelines are on female nudity.”
While Apple’s App Store did allow DiMarco to upload a beta version before subsequently rejecting it, Google Play “shut it down almost immediately,” she said. DiMarco blasted back by launching a petition on change.org. At the time of publication, it’s currently garnered nearly 1,400 signatures, but there’s still a long road ahead. “I don’t think Apple or Google will listen to something short of 10,000 signatures,” she explained. “But it’s really about getting the word out there and trying to get as any people involved as possible to really show that this app is desired by many people, and that it’s also a statement amongst women in terms of how they want to represent their bodies and having that choice.”
Here, we caught up with DiMarco to discuss the over-sexualization of the female form, how women can be more body positive under a Trump administration, and why she’ll never give up on this movement.