Am I the only one who is tired of everyone trying to police her body? From what size we are to how we describe ourselves to what we wear to what we show off online, it seems everyone has to get a piece of the action and tell women what is and isn’t acceptable.
Enter Instagram. Last week, the social media app decided to ban #curvy, which many women — “plus-sized” women in particular — used to share body-positive images, from selfies in cute outfits to encouraging messages. An Instagram spokesperson told Mashable that, “I can confirm that we did block the hashtag #curvy. It was being used to share content that violates our guidelines around nudity. Please note that the block has nothing to do with the term ‘curvy’ itself.”
Word? So it’s all about the way it’s being used? Then please explain to me why hashtags like #TwerkQueen (where I was treated to videos of anal sex), #NipplePiercing (in which men’s pierced nipples are prominently displayed) and #FreeTheNipple and #Dildo (use your imagination) are all still alive and well with thousands of related (and dirty) posts. And a search of #Skinny — which comes with a disclaimer about eating disorders, by the way — actually just showed me a video of a dude masturbating. So my question is: How does Instagram decide what makes a violation of its nudity policy egregious enough to warrant blocking an entire hashtag?
It’s not the first time Instagram has wholesale peaced out on a hashtag that seemed to have more to do with the app’s desire to shape free speech and shame women who aren’t stick-thin than to actually clean up lurid posts. Breastfeeding posts were a no-no until this past April and folks like Rihanna and Chrissy Teigen have long been waging war with Instagram over their right to show their nipples on their own accounts.
It seems to me that Instagram has forgotten its own goal of making the app an “authentic and safe place for inspiration and expression” in favor of policing its users and applying their own preferences and baffling moral code to the community’s posts. While I didn’t want to see most of the photos that came up when I searched for #Vaginas, I respect folks’ rights to post them, and know that I have a choice not to view them. And if it’s young users on Instagram we are concerned about, why not introduce parental controls and let moms and dads decide what to expose their children to?
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