Why Is Instagram Removing Photos of Fully Dressed Plus-Size Women?

Tanya Edwards
Yahoo Style
Why is Instagram removing photos of fully clothed plus-size women? (Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Why is Instagram removing photos of fully clothed plus-size women? (Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Popular photo-sharing social-media service Instagram may have a plus-size problem. Starting in 2014, the site has been removing photos of plus-size women, both fully dressed and in bathing suits, “for violating our Community Guidelines.” And it’s still happening.

This week, the service appears to have taken down a photo of a woman in a tank top and black pants flashing a peace sign, with the message that it was removed for violating guidelines from body positive account PlusBabyGirl, which celebrates women of all sizes.

@instagram You’ve done it again. Why has this picture been removed? How does this violate ANY terms and conditions when she is FULLY DRESSED. I’ve had enough ???????? This has happened before too. Is it because she’s plus sized? How does that even work? There’s no hate speech or nudity in this picture! If Kylies posts don’t get taken down when she’s virtually naked, why has this been taken down? This reminds me of a post from @BuzzFeed on Instagram taking down posts for no reason.

A post shared by Only Positive Vibes ✨ (@plusbabygirl) on Jun 21, 2017 at 6:10pm PDT

 

The account was targeted the first week of June as well, with a photo of a smiling young woman wearing a bikini while on a beach (as one does) removed for violating community standards.

A look at the community guidelines show that nudity — except in the case of breastfeeding or a painting/sculpture — is not allowed, and the service reminds users that “We want to foster a positive, diverse community.” There is no mention of bathing suits, or of being plus-size while simply existing.

Ok so my post got removed.. HOW DOES THIS VIOLATE ANY GUIDELINE!? It’s a bikini? We have ppl like Kim K who have x10 more “revealing” pics. Why was this removed @instagram

A post shared by Only Positive Vibes ✨ (@plusbabygirl) on Jun 16, 2017 at 12:23pm PDT

 

In 2014, blogger and musician Meghan Tonjes showed off her curves in an Instagram photo, and she was surprised when the social network removed the image.

After posting a picture, she received a message from Instagram that the photo had been removed “for violating our Community Guidelines.” She was upset at what she felt was unfair treatment because of her weight, given that celebrities like Kim Kardashian and models like Emily Ratajkowski often share much more revealing photos.

A post shared by ????MEGHAN TONJES???? (@meghantonjes) on Jun 13, 2017 at 5:28am PDT

 

After being called out by the TODAY Show for unfairly policing Tonjes for her size, Instagram apologized and restored the photo, saying, “We made a mistake.”

Last July, HuffPost reports, it happened again, when Aarti Olivia Dubey, a Singaporean-Indian plus-size fashion blogger, called out the app after realizing a photo she posted with two friends — all of them wearing bikinis for a professional photoshoot — had been removed because it violated community guidelines. Again, the site apologized and called the incident an accident.

Dear @instagram this is a little too late after I had to deal with all the bloody trolls and haters last week. It’s almost TWO weeks. So I accept your apology Instagram but it does not change a thing. You have placed the image back but at what cost? Please remember that if this ever happens again, I assure you it will be a battle cry I will announce because You are answerable to ALL of my plus size friends for removing their images or accounts on Instagram or Facebook. Check your latent fatphobia. Check your guidelines and policies. Take better care of the people who use your services as a means of staying connected to oceans of people who just want to exist as people. Fat, brown, lgbt, disabled and many other intersections deserve RESPECT and not to be trolled by anonymous private accounts with no life. Sincerely, a fat brown woman. #plussize #woc #intersectionalfeminism #fatacceptance #psblogger #bodypositive #nobodyshame #losehatenotweight #fuckfatphobia #igsg #southasian #effyourbeautystandards

A post shared by Aarti Olivia Dubey (@curvesbecomeher) on May 31, 2016 at 2:02pm PDT

 

Instagram relies on users to flag questionable photos, which unfortunately can allow users who are somehow “offended” by a fully clothed woman who doesn’t follow whatever imaginary beauty guidelines exist in their head, can click that “report” button. It’s not completely clear if Instagram vets these reports before removing an image, or automatically removes images that get multiple reports.

A representative from Instagram provided the following statement, writing, “We don’t typically provide details about individual accounts, but in this case I can share the below background by way of explanation.”

“A post from this account was removed in error,” the statement continued, “but we moved quickly to restore the content as soon as we learned of the mistake. We apologize for the error.”

The June 22 photo of a fully dressed woman has been restored to PlusBabyGirl.

The statement goes on to say, “A separate post from this account was reported and removed for violating our community guidelines.”

The only other post we could find that was removed from this account was of a woman in a bathing suit.

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