Nip Slips, Nose Picks & Other No-Nos


The connection between Jerry Seinfeld and Madonna may not be an obvious one at first mention, but both are acutely aware of taboos of the body that make society’s knees quiver and cross. Horny teens and kinky adults of the 90s flipped through the pages of Madonna’s Sex book while controversy stirred amid puritanical prudes like silver spoons in diner coffee cups. As a pop icon, Madonna embodies and toys with the virgin-whore dichotomy that even today’s women cannot seem to escape.  Madonna’s coffee table book was, according to the LA Times Book Review, “a book so racy that it came in a foil wrapper.” With page after page of black and white photos featuring Madonna in sexual poses with women, men in bondage, men with men, and more, Sex took sexual taboos and made them chic. In December 1992, just a couple months after Madonna’s book release, Seinfeld aired “The Pick.” The episode makes light of taboos like exposed nipples (remember the uproar over Janet Jackson’s unrehearsed “nip slip” at the Super Bowl in 2004?) and nose picking. When Kramer photographs Elaine for her Christmas card, he unwittingly exposes her nipple to the world, prompting her co-workers to start calling her “Nip” and her sister to chew her out for exposing her teenage nephew to the troublesome body part. To try to soothe Elaine’s worries over the exposure, Jerry and Kramer lift their shirts to remind us all that men have nipples, too. Why should the appearance of woman’s nipples be as taboo as...picking one’s nose?  While scratching the outer rim of his nostril at a stoplight, Jerry’s Calvin Klein model girlfriend thinks she sees him picking his nose, and as a result she dumps him. He tries to explain, but her judgment holds fast. Despite being a cultural taboo, nose picking is fairly common, especially among children and teens that push the taboo beyond picking by booger eating and flicking. Violating taboos has its consequences, namely harsh judgment and treatment from others, but let Elaine remind us of a certain truth with her response to those who judged her: “Let me tell you, I didn't intentionally expose myself, but, now, I wish I had. For it is not me, but you who have been exposed, for I have seen the nipple on your soul!”