Instagram to change nudity policy after censoring plus-size snaps

Sarah Carty
·Features & Style Editor
·4-min read

Instagram has announced it is changing its nudity policy after a three month campaign by UK plus-size model and activist Nyome Nicholas-Williams.

Nyome started the #iwanttoseenyome campaign after a picture of her sitting on a stool wearing cycling shorts and holding her breasts was removed by over claims it breached the site’s guidelines, with Instagram accused of discriminating against Black content creators.

Nyome Nicholas - Williams
UK plus-size model and activist Nyome Nicholas-Williams inspired Instagram's policy change. Photo: Instagram/Nyome Nicholas - Williams

For three months, Nyome, who has over 63,000 followers on Instagram, strategised and campaigned for the change and a petition gathered more than 20,000 signatures.

"If you are white, rich, and conventionally sexually attractive, it seems you can post as you wish and what you wish,” she wrote.

"But if you are part of a marginalised group you are subject to the results of a biased algorithm."

Speaking to The Guardian, Nyome said she was shocked that “a fat black woman celebrating her body is banned … I want to promote self-love and inclusivity because that’s how I feel and how I want other women like me to feel”.

Nyome took to her Instagram account after the policy change was announced, writing: “We have put our heart and souls into this campaign and to see it come to fruition is insane.

Nyome Nicholas - Williams
Nyome spent three months campaigning for the change. Photo: Instagram/Nyome Nicholas - Williams

“We worked very hard on this and managed to get Instagram and @mosseri attention and there's still a lot of work to be done, as black plus sized women continue to be censored in many ways; and white women STILL tried to hijack and make it their campaign.

“There is of course a huge racial imbalance in the algorithm that still exists as white bodies are promoted and don't have to worry about censorship of their posts but black bodies still have to justify presence on the platform, this has also been brought to Instagrams attention! But when we put our minds to it... we can achieve literally ANYTHING!!”

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Now, Instagram has decided that from Wednesday, October 28th, they will allow content where someone is hugging, cupping or holding their breasts. And, if there’s any doubt, they will ask that reviewers to allow the content to stay up.

Instagram previously had not allowed breast squeezing as it’s ‘often associated with pornographic content’ and they needed to make sure content was appropriate for people as young as 13.

However, when they looked into their nudity policy, they realised they had ‘made mistakes in how this has been enforced, especially when it comes to the plus-size community’.

The policy will now be refined, however they admitted that it might take some time to ensure it is enforced correctly.

Celeste Barber’s post censored

Last week, Australian comedian Celeste Barber decided to parody a professional photo model Candice Swanepoel has posted on her Instagram page, showing her nude, with a coat draped around her and a hand covering her modesty.

Celeste Barber and Candice Swanepoel
Celeste Barber called out Instagram after this photo was censored by the social media giant. Photo: Instagram/Celeste Barber
Celeste Barber Instagram censor
Celeste's fans were given this notice when they tried to share the photo. Photo: Instagram/Celeste Barber

However, while the original post by Candice was deemed acceptable by Instagram, Celeste’s fans, who wanted to share her post to their own Stories, were met with a warning notice.

“Your Post Goes Against Our Community Guidelines,” the warning read, with many fans saying the photo was removed from their Stories because it ‘went against Instagram’s community guidelines on nudity or sexual activity’.

Celeste Barber Instagram Stories
Celeste hit out at Instagram in her Stories. Photo: Instagram/Celeste Barber

Philip Chua, Head of Instagram Public Policy in Australia said: “We know people feel more empowered to express themselves and create communities of support - like the body positivity community - if they feel that their bodies and images are accepted.

“We are grateful to our global community for speaking openly and honestly about their experiences and hope this policy change will help more people to confidently express themselves. It may take some time to ensure we’re correctly enforcing these new updates but we’re committed to getting this right.”

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