Battling body shaming on Instagram

Ben Johnson and James Perla Aug 3, 2015
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Battling body shaming on Instagram

Ben Johnson and James Perla Aug 3, 2015
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Like Twitter, Instagram posts can be a veritable cornucopia for hashtags; from #nofilter, to #instafood,  to paragraphs of #tagsforlikes. Recently, #curvy, a hashtag that was popular but effectively invisible due to the photo app’s censorship rules, created a controversy for the photo sharing platform.

According to Instagram, the photos on #curvy violated the photo sharing app’s terms of service because of nudity. But Molly Mulshine, senior digital culture editor at Tech Insider says, “the really weird thing is you can still find a lot of much more offensive content than nude photos on Instagram.”

The ban on #curvy also reveals inconsistencies about what warrants a ban versus a warning. For example, when searching for #skinny and #thin, the app shows a warning that there may be graphic content on the page, but it doesn’t remove the content altogether like it has done for #curvy.

Because users self-police on Instagram and report content that they deem inappropriate, Mulshine says, “I think that a lot of people are seeing these photos surface and reporting them to just kind of to be jerks.” 

Sara Chiwaya from the blog Curvily has talked about how these issues connect to the larger effort to battle cultural biases online. She says that even when equal amounts of skin are showing, curvier bodies tend to be treated as more obscene than thin bodies. 

Instagram recently reinstated #curvy after outcry from the plus-sized blogging community, and the rise of hashtags to get around the ban, like #curvee. Mulshine says that it is a rare for the photo sharing app to listen to the community in this way and lift a ban.

Now, the users on #curvy can add #winning to their posts.

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