Saturday, July 19, 2014

Everybody should be allowed to show their butts, stomachs, and boobs on Instagram


On Instagram, Kim Kardashian can post numerous sexy pictures of her ass and of her side boob, and Jen Selter has become a superstar because of  the photographs of her plump and toned derriere. Although Instagram's rules bar any "adult" or "mature content," Instagram deems these photos as well as numerous other soft-core-style photos compliant with their rules and regulations. Yet when a woman who doesn't conform to Hollywood standards of beauty exposes her body, her photos get taken down. WTF?
Photo from Kim's Instagram, courtesy of The Mirror

A sample from Jen Selter's Instagram, courtesy of like-net.com
Like Kardashian, Selter, and numerous other Instagram models, Samm Newman, an Ohio nineteen-year-old, posted photographs of herself in revealing attire. But unlike the other women, Instagram removed Newman's photos, and Newman fought back. She reasoned that if her photos violated Instagram's rules, then so should other women's photographs of themselves in bikinis and lingerie. According to Think Progress, she began to report those photographs and shortly after, she found that her account was deactivated. The other women's pictures remained.

Newman, a plus sized woman, felt discriminated against, and she took it to the media to explain her case. “All my life, I was told to suck it in, and I would see these commercials on TV every day of these Victoria Secret models who weighed just nothing,” Newman said. “As comfortable as I was with myself, I wasn’t comfortable with my body, and that was a really huge drawback.”

Newman's story went viral because of the hypocrisy of the situation, and the body-shaming by the social media platform made many people sick.  As of yesterday, Instagram formally apologized for censoring Newman. They restored all of her photographs.
A sample of Samm Newman's Instagram photo, courtesy of Fox News
I congratulate Newman for baring her body and fighting for the right to show others a body type that is not typically shared on Instagram. Censoring bodies and only showing models distorts impressionable minds to believe that those models are the norm when in fact these women exercise and diet rigorously, have had plastic surgery, are posed at certain angles, or are just photoshopped.  

I still remember when I was a teen and I would see album covers or photographs in magazines, and I always wondered why I couldn't look like that. I still remember thinking how fat my stomach was because when I looked at my body from a profile, my mid section was larger than my arm. NOTE: Having a mid-section larger than your arm is NORMAL. However, I was tricked to thinking I was fat because of images like the one below: 

The Pussycat Dolls PCD album cover, courtesy of avaxsearch
As an adult, it's obvious to me that Nicole Scherzinger's mid-section is photoshopped and badly photoshopped at that, but when I was a kid and didn't know about smoke and mirrors, I really just felt lesser than seeing these images. To anyone who says that the media doesn't influence young people, I call bullshit, not only from personal experience but from numerous studies such as this one about the media and eating disorders from the Journal of Social Issues

Now that Newman has fought to not have her body censored, I hope that other people join her in her fight for body acceptance of all sizes. We as human beings need role models and images to aspire to, and the diversity of seeing young and old, toned and flabby, different skin shades, scars, whatever is beautiful and necessary to help people realize that whatever they look like is okay. It can be scary to expose one's body to the public, but the more people share, the less taboo the act becomes. However, if you don't personally want to show off your goods on Instagram, then at least don't judge when you see others do it. They may be a part of a movement that many people didn't realize was coming but was long overdue. 

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