Instagram’s Double Standard

After reflecting on our discussion yesterday about social media websites regulating what image content they allow I was inspired to do a little research on the topic. With the millions of posts each day, platforms such as Instagram and Facebook have the task of deciding whether or not a photo is within the “limits” trying to choose between black or white, when the subject matter clearly grey. This leads users to question heavily the reasons behind banning an image, comparing it to other similar images that are “allowed” and causes anticipated controversy among users.

Musician and video blogger Meghan Tonjes posted an image of her butt which is completely covered in underwear. After the photo was removed she reached out to her followers sharing her frustration with the conspicuously transparent double standard.

From left to right, Meghan’s banned butt picture and “acceptable” swimswear model. Whats the difference Instagram?

originalEau Paix Vie Swimwear 12

What I found intriguing about Meghan’s reaction was that instead of channeling all of the negative attention on Instagram, she questioned why out culture and society has such a problem with these images of women who don’t appease to a certain standard. I agree with Meghan’s point and urge more discussion around why these images are thought to be offensive.

Click here to read the article.



  1. Hey Lisa,

    I just wanted to say that you made a good point over here. I did not know that such images were banned on Instagram and this makes me even more frustrated about our society! It is pretty common these days to hear about some media outlets and companies which are “concerned” with how women (especially young women) perceived their bodies and their beauty, as it was the case with the Dove Campaign. Some of these companies and media outlets are also advocating for a better representation of women in ads which I find is a little hypocrite because they are still, in part, behind the creation of the discourses around beauty in our society and therefore, perpetuates it every time a new beauty product comes out, for instance.

    Well, I don’t think this is new to any of you; I just wanted to share how I was outraged by this artificial/hypocrite world that we are currently creating through social media – I love social media and I believe that they can be beneficial and really useful in some instances, especially in one’s identification process. But at the same time, I think that it would be primordial to give more space to other forms of representation of women’s bodies, which are more accurate and which can help to challenge the existing discourse around beauty, and around what is an acceptable female body.

    I invite you all to go take a look at this amazing project about different body types in sports:

    It is not related to Instagram but helps, in a way, to challenge existing ideas around the female body. Do you think that such portraits would have been banned on Instagram?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Here’s artist Petra Collins’ take on the debate –

    “I consider myself endlessly lucky to have access to the Internet and technology. Through it I’ve found myself and have been able to join a new discourse of females young and old who strive to change the way we look and treat ourselves. I know having a social media profile removed is a 21st century privileged problem – but it is the way a lot of us live. These profiles mimic our physical selves and a lot of the time are even more important. They are ways to connect with an audience, to start discussion, and to create change. Through this removal I really felt how strong of a distrust and hate we have towards female bodies. The deletion of my account felt like a physical act, like the public coming at me with a razor, sticking their finger down my throat, forcing me to cover up, forcing me to succumb to societies image of beauty. That these very real pressures we face everyday can turn into literal censorship.”

    Here’s the full article:

    Give it a read and let me know what you think!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing that with the class. Petra Collins is very articulate on the issues of body image, femininity, feminism and pop culture. It may seem too extreme for some, but she is pointing to real issues that many people do not want to face because it means self-reflecting on the ways in which interpellation works so well 🙂 And thus, women like Collins force us to re-think some of the ways we have participated in the shaming of women’s bodies. And the point isn’t to just feel bad for perpetuating certain dominant codes and ideologies and be ashamed of that, but to recognize that none of us are immune and to learn from it. Which is why we also shouldn’t shame people if they do perpetuate oppressive ideologies but are trying to figure it out.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is similar to Cathleen’s post, but I thought I’d share this anyway:

    Basically Rupi Kaur (a poet based in Toronto) posted a photograph showing a small amount of menstrual blood on her pants/bed sheets that was removed by Instagram. Kaur fought back through this post to her website (shared on tumblr and facebook), and Instagram ended up rectifying this removal by adding the post back. I found her writing about it to be really powerful, and her description of the double standard is really on point.

    Let me know what you think.


    1. I’m so glad this has gotten as much attention as it has. My response to Cathleen above stands true for this also. Detailing and analyzing the contradictory value-laden draconian Instagram policies has been my research since 2011, and it’s only gotten worse. Yes, they have “added the post back” but they have already signified and deemed menstruation as inappropriate/shameful/something to be censored. Those moves have a lot more implications on the way average citizens think than Instagram probably realizes, or maybe they do? One of the issues is not simply to allow nudity/menstruation on Instagram (aka allow this superstructure to change their policies), but to re-orient our thinking (daily life) about that being an obscene, shameful thing to be ‘covered up’.

      Like Lefebvre said ” it is essential that activists and artists who would be “revolutionary” produce new spaces, which is inseparable from new everyday lives and new languages. “A revolution that does not produce a new space has not realized its full potential; indeed it has failed in that it has not changed life itself, but has merely changed ideological superstructures, institutions or political apparatuses. A social transformation, to be truly revolutionary in character, must manifest a creative capacity in its effects on daily life, on language and on space.”

      I was recently interviewed about Instagram and nudity on some instagram magazine, and the question the interviewer asked to their feed “should there be nudity on instagram?” and most people said no. But what does it mean to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’. It is not a simple yes/no issue is it? Also: embedded in the question is the assumption that nudity shouldn’t be on instagram. We must be so careful around language, and the ways in which we ask questions and the kinds of embedded motivations that are in them.

      Btw, Petra Collins also does work around menstruation.

      We should get Gaby and Evan into this conversation as their final project is dealing with this issue!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s