Instagram’s policies on showing some skin cam under scrutiny recently in two high profile brush ups with users. In the first, a plus sized woman’s photo was removed in what was said to be accordance with Instagram’s Community Guidelines. A few days later, Scout Willis’ Instagram account was shut down after she posted herself walking around New York topless.
Meghan Tonjes, a musician from LA, made news when she claimed that Instagram removed her photos because she was fat. Tonjes is using the photo sharing app to document her weight loss, and posted a picture of her underwear-clad rear end. Instagram’s reasons for removing the posts involved their community guidelines. They say that Tonjes was showing too much skin. In a YouTube video, Tonjes pointed to models like Chrissy Tiegen and Kim Kardashian as people who post much more revealing photos of themselves without any threat of the pictures coming down. Tonjes stated that she has also run into problems with sites like Tumblr removing her photos, when pictures of skinny women get left up. Tonjes made her video in hopes that a dialogue with the public would begin about the ability of women of all shapes and sizes to feel proud of their bodies. Not only did Tonjes start that conversation, Instagram also got in their two cents. Saying they walk a fine line when figuring out if a picture is indecent or not, Instagram also admitted that this time they made a mistake, and the pictures were re-posted.
A statement of a different kind was made when Scout Willis, daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, had topless photos taken of her while walking around New York City. In the post she used the hashtag #FreeTheNipple. Willis was protesting the very same Community Guidelines policing that Meghan Tionjes got slammed with. In New York, it is legal for woman to be topless. Willis’s caption under her photos read “What Instagram won’t let you see #FreeTheNipple” and “Legal in NYC but not on @instagram”.
The #FreeTheNipple hashtag came into existence about a year ago as a marketing tool for Linda Esco’s documentary also called Free the Nipple. The documentary is about the illegalities of women walking around topless. Though it is legal in New York for women to go topless, those who choose to exercise that right still get arrested by police officers who don’t know any better. It is the goal of Esco to bring light to this information, and end the so-called “criminilization” of the female areola. Esco herself has been banned from Instagram and Facebook.
Scout Willis has found supporters just like Meghan Tonjes did. In April, singer Rihanna appeared topless for a Liu Magazine cover. Instagram removed the photo and then reinstated it, saying that the picture was removed by accident. After Willis posted her pictures and Instagram’s reponse, Rihanna sent out a tweet in support. Miley Cyrus has used the #FreeTheNipple hashtag as well. Willis certainly has more support than just those two, however. Her tweets have been favorited and retweeted over 2,00 times.
By Bryan Levy