Instagram Updates Policy on Naked Breasts After Censorship of Nyome Nicholas-Williams and Celeste Barber
Instagram is set to change its policy on images of people holding naked breasts after being called out for censoring photos of UK curve model Nyome Nicholas-Williams and Aussie comedian Celeste Barber. From Wednesday, the social media platform will allow photos of people hugging, holding or cupping breasts, the ABC writes.
In the UK, Nyome, photographer Alex Cameron and campaigner Gina Martin have been advocating for months for the policy to be reviewed, as body-positive images, often of Black, plus-sized men and women, were being censored or removed.
Earlier in October, Instagram censored a post from Celeste Barber imitating a naked photograph of model Candice Swanepoel. The post couldn't be shared because it was said to breach "community guidelines on nudity or sexual activity".
Commentators pointed out the double standard between Instagram's censorship of Celeste's post, in which she is wearing underwear, and the lack of censorship applied to Candice's fully naked original. Others went on to speculate that the difference lies in the difference in body types between Celeste and Candice — that Candice meets cultural beauty standards around thinness, while Celeste is a curvier woman.
"Hey Instagram, sort out your body-shaming standards, guys," Celeste wrote about the censorship. "It's 2020. Catch up." In a followup post, Celeste copied a pose from Bella Hadid, writing, "Oh hi, just out here checking on your double standards."
Instagram's head of public policy in Australia Philip Chua said the censorship "shouldn't have happened", and that Instagram had apologised to Celeste. "This shouldn't be happening and we are committed to addressing any inequity on our platforms," he said. "We expect to update our breast covering policies very soon, to make sure all body types are treated fairly."
He stressed that other images of naked breasts, where nipples are not visible, were accepted on the platform, including those "depicting acts of protest, women actively engaged in breastfeeding and photos of post-mastectomy scarring".
Yesterday, Nyome celebrated the change, writing on Instagram that breast-holding is a "celebration of body", while breast-grabbing is determined to be pornographic and is censored to protect underage users.
"This policy change should allow them to better differentiate self expression/ art from pornographic content. Hopefully this policy change will bring an end to the censorship of fat black bodies," she said.
It's definitely an important first step — and one worth celebrating, just like the images of diverse bodies available on the platform. Scroll on to see some of Nyome and Celeste's images: