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Instagram: It's Okay to Be #Thin But Not #Curvy

#Curvy has become the latest search to be blocked on Instagram. A spokesperson for Instagram confirmed that it has been removed for violating community guidelines on nudity. When users try to search for #curvy, instead they are greeted with alternative suggestions like #curvygirl and #curvywoman. Other hashtags that don’t violate guidelines include #vaginas, #clitoris and #dildo, begging the question – what do the guidelines actually allow? 


The ban suggests that while the images with hashtag #curvy don’t necessarily violate the nudity guidelines anymore than other provocative hashtags, they are more likely to be reported by users. Instagram users have responded to the ban by using the tags like #curvee and #stillcurvy instead of #curvy.

Hashtags recently disabled by Instagram include #thinspo, which glorifies thin women with ‘thigh gaps' and #nipple which sparked the #freethenipple campaign, calling out the nudity policy for being sexist because it sexualises women’s bodies and not men’s. Sam Roddick – who had her Instagram account permanently deleted for posting an ‘unacceptable’ image of a cornice that looked a bit like a vagina – says that there are inconsistencies in the site’s censorship. 

At a panel discussion on social media and the arts at The Hospital Club, Roddick questioned why her photos had been removed while hashtags which contain pornographic content remain allowed. She told Huffington Post that she is ‘disturbed’ by Instagram’s choices about censorship and that the company philosophy is ‘psychologically damaging towards women’

For more suggestive architecture and provocative fruit, search #accidentalvagina on Instagram.


Instagram have previously banned images of breast feeding, women’s nipples and menstruation. In March, Rupi Kaur uploaded an image of a woman lying on a bed with blood stains on her clothes and on the sheets. The picture was removed twice from the site before it was eventually allowed when Kaur posted on social media about the incident. 

In May last year, Megan Tonjes posted a photo of her buttocks with a body-positive message, but the image was flagged as inappropriate even though it did not violate Instagram’s policy against fully nude buttocks. Instagram apologised to Tonjes, admitting that they had made a mistake.

The latest example of Instagram’s murky guidelines on nudity is Chrissy Teigen’s topless photo from her fashion shoot for W Magazine. The image, in which Teigen’s nipple is visible, was deemed to violate nudity guidelines and removed. Instagram’s policy allows ‘some photos of female nipples’ such as breast feeding and post-mastectomy scarring, but boobs are banned.

Roddick added that it is important that social media sites like Instagram show their support of positive body expression and gender representation. Hashtags like #effyourbeautystandards and #curvy are trying to destabilise misrepresentative beauty standards and celebrate the diverse reality of the human body. It is unrealistic to expect Instagram to get it right every time, but the ban of #curvy is a regressive step in the move towards collaborative body positivity.

Aaron Waterhouse

Aaron is a recent English graduate from Durham University who is now working as a content writer intern. An enthusiastic traveller, he hopes to become a journalist and report from around the world. Follow him @AaronAtSMF

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Instagram: It's Okay to Be #Thin But Not #Curvy Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, July 17, 2015 Rating: 5

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