Miles Kennelly, a Harvard economics major who lives in New York City, claims Instagram banned two photos of his for being “too sexual.” The photos, which featured him wearing a swimsuit, have reignited discussions over whether the photo-sharing social platform’s policies are equally applied to people of every gender.
Kennelly subsequently posted the same photos on Twitter and questioned whether Instagram would’ve removed photos of a “busty” woman.
One of the photos (below) has since been restored on Instagram. But a second photo, showing Kennelly with his bulge to the side, has not been restored.
— Miles Kennelly (@MilesKennelly) October 4, 2017
Instagram’s official policy on nudity reads:
We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity on Instagram. This includes photos, videos and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. It also includes some photos of female nipples, but photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too.
When bodies get Instagram banned
While Instagram has permanently banned such male-sexual hashtags like #bigdickboy and #eggplant, it has also perma-banned #titties and has occasionally or regionally banned other hashtags in the past, including #curvy. Their hashtag banning has been criticized as inconsistent and ineffective. (The hashtags for #boobs and #hung are both still searchable, for instance.)
Instagram’s policies have typically affected women far more than men. Various women have had photos removed from the platform for featuring menstrual blood, pubic hair, line-drawing depictions of breasts, mastectomy scars and women in underwear.
Most contentiously, Instagram doesn’t allow images of female breasts but allows images of male breasts. In protest, the Genderless Nipple account began posting images of nipples to see if Instagram will ban such depictions, regardless of gender.
When popular social networks like Instagram and Facebook make it clear that men’s bodies are allowed on their sites but women’s bodies aren’t, it sends the message that women’s bodies (and just more “feminine” features) are something to be censored and ashamed of.