We don’t know what’s going on at Instagram these days, but it’s pretty clear the social media outlet needs to get it together when it comes to its “community guidelines.” Over the past few months, Instagram’s terms of propriety have helped add momentum to the #Freethenipple campaign. The social media platform’s policies deem female nipples as a violation, while men–even men who have breasts–are free to show their nipples at will. The movement has garnered support from breastfeeding mothers and celebrities like Scout Willis, Miley Cyrus and Cara Delevingne.
Now, Instagram has another scandal on its hands. A Chillicothe, Ohio teenage girl is crying foul after the social media site deleted her account over a few underwear selfies. 19-year-old Samm Newman believes they censored the images because she’s a size 24 as opposed to a size 2. “I didn’t find [the briefs] or the bra at all inappropriate,” she told NBC4 News. “They covered me entirely and I’ve seen pictures like that all over Instagram.” And indeed, a quick scroll down almost any timeline will reveal a bevy of bikini and underwear shots from women with conventionally “hot” bodies–all deemed OK according to Instagram’s policies. Newman says, in this case, she is a victim of size discrimination–and it’s hard to disagree with her.
The Instagram feeds of Victoria’s Secret models Chanel Iman, Doutzen Kroes and Alessandra Ambrosio are riddled with lingerie shots, but they remain untouched and unpunished by the social media platform. Before nipple-gate, Rihanna‘s Instagram profile (RIP, gone too soon) was littered with images of her in all manner of tiny swimsuits and lingerie. There was even a nearly-naked photo of the singer posted to her BFF Melissa Forde‘s profile in late 2012, wearing nothing but a bra and fur coat, smoking a blunt by the fire.
Newman claims her images were taken down because her body “doesn’t fit [Instagram’s] ‘normal.'” Of course, the folks at Instagram say the suspension of Newman’s profile was a mistake and have issued an apology: “When our team processes reports from other members of the Instagram community, we occasionally make a mistake. In this case we wrongly removed content and worked to rectify the error as soon as we were notified. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
But in spite of the negativity, Newman says her experience has turned into a positive force for plus-sized women like herself. “People have said that me speaking out and making this huge ruckus…has made them feel strong, courageous and ready to fight like I have.” She’s certainly made an impression on some people–her 204 follower count has jumped to 363.
UPDATE: an Instagram spokesperson contacted us with an updated version of their apology: “We are truly sorry for our mistake here. When reviewing reported content from the Instagram community, we do not always get it right and we wrongly removed an account. As soon as we were made aware, we reactivated the account and restored the content.”