Commentary: Instagram Now Allows Women to »Hold Their Breasts«

woman holding her breasts

Social Media giant Instagram has decided to loosen its policy on partial nudity. After intense criticism because of the hypocrisy of the company concerning female bodies the Facebook subsidy will no longer censor partially nude female breasts. An unintentionally silly reaction to a broader problem.

Instagram announced a change in its policy concerning nudity posted by its hundreds of millions of users. The change came after the company was heavily criticized for profiting from female bodies and even eroticism while seemingly arbitrarily keeping a strict ban on adult content leading to many accounts being blocked or shadow banned without prior warning.

The Black British plus-sized model Nyome Nicholas-Williams led a campaign against Instagram for several weeks. She accused the Social Media Giant of removing images showing her covering her breasts with her arms. She claimed that these removals had been done because of a racial bias in Instagram’s algorithm.

But instead of addressing the topic more seriously Instagram now decided to just tiptoe and dance around the problem. The new nudity policy inadvertently exposes Instagram’s ridiculous hypocrisy concerning adult content, body images and freedom of expression. From now on it will allow »pictures of women holding, cupping or wrapping their arms around their breasts.« How gracious! The gods from Silicon Valley are allowing women to touch their tits. What a progressive stance. Neither the implicit racial bias, nor the censorship of adult life has been addressed by this sad and nonsensical move.

A spokesperson for the company said in polished corporate talk: »It may take some time to ensure we’re correctly enforcing these new updates, but we’re committed to getting this right. Hearing Nicholas-Williams’ feedback helped us understand where this policy was falling short, and how we could refine it.«

At least some of the changes seem to be rooted in understanding some part of the problem. According the the press agency Reuters, Instagram »apologized last month to Nicholas-Williams and said it would update its policy, amid global concern over racism in technology following the global Black Lives Matter protests this year.«

Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri apparently met with some of its high-profile critics and decided it was time to change the policies of the company. Feminist activist Gina Martin told Reuters that Mosseri was open to meet with her and heard her out. She said: »It’s rare that communities that are marginalized and misrepresented on Instagram get to have this kind of literally direct and one-on-one consultation with the CEO. It’s rare that you’re this involved in a policy change.«

So while some of the critics seem to be satisfied with the reaction by Instagram, and while the company seems to be sensitive and willing to learn when it comes to racist bias, it still seems very reluctant to be open to understand its hypocrisy about nudity and body images. Sex workers and adult performers are still at the mercy of the company’s vague policy and still vulnerable to getting shadow-banned or blocked with sometimes drastic consequences for their income.

For now though women have won the right to hold their own breasts on Instagram. What a relief!



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