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Instagram makes changes to its breast-covering policy after a campaign by a black plus-sized model

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Instagram is a leading photo-sharing social media platform that is extensively popular in the current generation. It has recently made a fundamental policy shift as an update on its policy on nudity. This policy shift comes after the old policy being accused of promoting discrimination towards plus-sized women of colour. Acting on this, the new policy will come on Wednesday which will be implemented, on both Instagram and Facebook. This is a step towards making sure that the social media platform promotes no discriminatory practices and treats all body types fairly and equally.

What is wrong in Instagram policies currently?

Instagram has certain listed rules and regulations along with a bunch of community guidelines that determine the content they restrict from being posted. Sexual and Nude images form a part of this restricted content and are also ‘monitored on a case to case basis’.

However, with body positivity taking up the growing space on social media, these guidelines have often been accused of being discriminatory and biased towards a particular body type and colour. Several incidents of gender bias are also present such as female nipple being banned while male one is not. The new policy would be implemented to rectify all these biases.

What has pressurized Instagram changing its policy?

A sustained campaign run by a UK based 28-year-old model, Nyome Nicholas-Williams, is the intriguing cause behind this whole idea of policy change. It was in August when the plus-sized black model had posted pictures of herself as a ‘confidence shoot’. The images, taken by photographer Alexandra Cameron, showed Nicholas-Williams nude, with her arms covering her breasts and her eyes dreamily shut.

But within a few hours of the post, these pictures were taken down by Instagram and a warning was also issued to the model by the social media giant that her account could be removed. The “confidence shoot” had attracted mass attention with several users praising her way and effort of spreading body positivity. She, then launched an online campaign to raise her voice against what she deemed was a systemic censorship against black as well as plus-sized people, especially women. She also argued that the platform has had no issues of sexual content or nudity with nude pictures of white and thin women.

After being pressurized from the mass global outrage and the humungous amount of support the campaign had drawn, Instagram restored her pictures and put them back up. There were allegations of censorship on the platforms and the hashtag “#iwanttoseenyome”  was trending.

On the restored image, Nicholas Williams wrote, “Why are white plus-sized bodies seen as “acceptable” and accepted and black plus sized bodies not? Let’s shift the narrative that the media and fashion has upheld for too long that depicts our bodies as somehow being wrong when that couldn’t be further from the truth! I will continue to challenge and break down those societal and fashion “body standards” that have been upheld for too long.” And it was after the Nicholas-Williams campaign that Instagram had planned and decided to review and correct its policy on nudity.

What is the new policy on nudity?

The new policy which was the pushed by the Nyome Nicholas campaign would now allow nude people hugging each other as well as cupping their breasts.

Apart from Nyome a lot of other people have also faced such problems with Instagram’s nudity policy. Australian comedian, Celeste Barber, too faced the attack of censorship from the platform after sharing a parody image of famous South African model Candice Swanepoel in which Barber had recreated the image, with a caption “When you finally sit down and your kid asks for a drink”. He shared the pictures along with the hashtags-  #celestebarber #celestechallengeaccepted #funny. The original image of the blonde and thin Victoria Secret’s model is partially covered and is shown cupping her breast.  The recreated image was removed by Instagram stating that it violated the ‘company’s community guidelines on nudity and sexual activity’.

The comedian raised the issue and reported to Instagram about it and his image was promptly back up. Philip Chua, the head of Instagram’s public policy in Australia, gave a statement clarifying that the platform had issued apologies to Barber. He also subtly commented by giving hints that the company is looking at making some changes to the policy in place.

How is the policy being welcomed by the users?

These changes in the nudity policy by the platform is being whole-heartedly welcomed by the people by stating it as a necessary intervention in countering the systemic bias that existed in the beauty and fashion world. For long a very long period of time in the history of mankind, the concept and picturization of ‘beauty’ was set by typical and parochial white and western standards because of which the plus-sized people of colour and minorities felt marginalised and discriminated as they were largely ignored and often censored.

Several social media influencers, as well as content creators, have been incessantly focusing on raising their voice to call out social media on how Facebook’s Instagram has been shaming and taking down the pictures of coloured or plus-sized women while on the contrary, it is full of nude, skinny, white women.

Currently, Instagram has more than a billion users who hold virtual presence and are feeding on content by popular influencers in the beauty segment. Instagram as a platform, holds the power to allow users to have direct access to the lives of models, celebrities, and film stars. And with this new policy in place, these users are expected to be shown more diverse content, uncensored content from people from all body types. It would also promote the people of different skin colours and ethnicities to feel welcome to share their stories.

 

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