Why is Instagram afraid of women’s bodies?

In the 13 years I have been writing on this particular iteration of my blog, I’ve considered closing it down many times and for many different reasons. Mostly it’s been because I’ve run out of ideas of things to write about, but occasionally I will find myself thinking that a particular social media platform has taken over to the point where I wonder if there’s any point linking to my blog posts any more. Folk rarely stop scrolling long enough to click through, so why bother? The last time I thought about ditching the blog I was using Instagram so much that it had taken the role in my life that blogging once did, but every now and again I am reminded of why putting all your content on third-party sites/apps is a really bad idea: they can delete your account.

So many lingerie bloggers, models, photographers, artists and other (mostly female) content creators that I follow on Instagram have had carefully planned posts removed and entire accounts deleted because their content apparently “goes against our community guidelines” or is “soliciting sex”. It doesn’t matter if nipples are carefully covered, bum cracks cropped out, certain words censored, and specific websites no longer linked to in bios, Instagram continues to silence them. This is despite the fact that big brand advertisers often get away with much more sexually suggestive content (as shown in this post by model and artist Tessa Kuragi), and slim young white celebrities have zero problems when sharing their arty nudes. When even Madonna has photos removed, you know it’s a platform that really hates women expressing themselves.

I understand that it’s tough to check content on sites as big as Facebook and Instagram, and any methods put in place will inevitably have their flaws, but what currently happens doesn’t seem to allow things like discussions on body positivity (or even censorship!) alongside images of larger bodies… and I certainly don’t know how lingerie brands manage to sell their thongs! Why does Instagram automatically view female nudity as sex rather than art? Why is underwear considered inherently sexual, when swimwear isn’t? Our bodies do many things and we show them off for many reasons but somehow, somewhere along the line, nudity or anything approaching it became shameful on Instagram despite it being a platform where so many amazing artists share their work.

That’s not to say that sexual images are “bad” or that the amazing sex workers who share taster content on that platform are doing something completely different to the lingerie bloggers. Nudity should not be considered shameful or negative and neither should sex. Anyone who shares images or writing pertaining to sex on social media and does so in a way that carefully considers the audience and their consent should be allowed to do so, and anyone sharing images without consent (and, yes, that includes dick pics in DMs) should be the people who are getting their accounts deleted. Instead, creators can lose their income overnight when their accounts are removed, as follower counts need to be built up again on a replacement/back-up account and brands will inevitably not want to collaborate when potential engagement is a mere fraction of what it once was.

So, even though this doesn’t apply to me as I don’t do collaborations or sponsored posts, I’m definitely keeping my blog. It’s a place where I can share lingerie reviews, photoshoots, discussions on body positivity, and anything else I bloody well like without worrying it’ll vanish overnight because there was some skin showing. It may not get updated all that often and I may never get many readers, but it feels like my internet safe place. I very much hope you have one of those too.

Image by Debbie Murray of Emerald Photography, from a shoot with Lori in July 2021.

3 thoughts on “Why is Instagram afraid of women’s bodies?

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  1. I keep hearing that a lot of the changes with sexuality / nudity on the internet all the influence of the Christian Conservatives. Especially where credit card payments are concerned. Does this sound right?

    1. It would not surprise me in the slightest. I’m currently watching The Handmaid’s Tale and it feels so believable because you can see where it all starts. Terrifying.

      1. Also, your face looks like it’s trying to say something. Those eyes and eye brows!

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