I’d like to call out the monitors, for lack of a better word, of Instagram. You know, the ones who have the power to shut down accounts deemed “inappropriate?” Either you need to sharpen your game, or you need to get a better public relations team. While I strongly prefer the first option, I suppose the choice is yours.
On Sept. 27, the Instagram account All Women Project was shut down due to violating terms, according to Refinery29. In case you’re unfamiliar with this account (and in all honesty, I was too, until I came across this story), it’s an Instagram account that promotes body positivity for women. It shows raw photos of women of various body types, all of whom are clothed, and even posts inspirational quotes throughout the account. The harmless account clearly intends to promote a powerful and motivational message that boasts all women as beautiful, so why was it shut down?
I could understand this mishap if the account featured any nudity. Instagram has users of all ages, so I completely get the need to be wary of nudity and other inappropriate graphics. That being said, I’m also not an advocate of censorship, so while I’d still want Instagram to interfere when an account is deemed offensive, maybe there is a way to simply limit the access of younger Instagram users to more inappropriate accounts. That, however, is a conversation for another time.
Not long after its shutdown, @allwomanproject was reactivated and an Instagram rep said the mistake was caused by a spam filter error. While that might be true, this is not the first time that Instagram has disabled an account highlighting the female body. To me, it just seems all too coincidental.
I think that social media is a means that can seriously harm body positivity. It provides easy access to images that an insecure person might compare him or herself with. It’s harmful in that it allows people to use filters and other editing techniques that warp photos into an unrealistic depiction. The amount of likes a person gets on an image becomes a popularity contest, and if you don’t get enough, you might feel inadequate.
However, I also think that social media is a tool that can be used to promote body positivity. It can easily and efficiently send out inspirational messages throughout the world. It is a way to spread awareness about self-esteem issues and encourage ways to resolve them. It is a channel through which individuals can upload images of all body types to show the beauty in diversity.
By shutting down a body-positive account, whether accidentally or not, Instagram adds to the harmful side of social media. It’s important to be cautious, even overly cautious, that nothing with a positive message is misconstrued. So, hopefully Instagram will be more aware of its technical issues, make better monitoring decisions or whatever it needs to do to ensure that something like this incident does not happen again.