Well Being

Should Nude Images Be Banned On Instagram? (NSFW)

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Today, Stacey Nishimoto wrote a piece for Into The Gloss (not to be confused with our sister site The Gloss) regarding nude images on Instagram and the shaky rules the social media site applies to them.

Nishimoto, a stylist and makeup artist, frequently used Instagram to post “inspirational”-type photos for artistic purposes. Upon posting one particular picture of a nude Mariacarla Boscono, she instantly posted it, only to find soon after that the Instagram gods had become angered at her violation of two rules: users cannot post images containing nudity, nor photos that are not their own.

The image blew up with likes. I know, right? Properly pleased with my post, I poured over more images of Mariacarla and sipped away at an iced espresso. After a while, I picked up my phone to see how many likes the image had amassed—true confessions of an addict—and noticed the photo wouldn't refresh. Dumbfounded, I tried to reload again, blaming bad reception. The pic wasn't in my stream but was still posted on my account. Assuming there was an error, I reposted. The likes started streaming in again. Content, I helped myself to a Nutella beignet. Again, I looked at my phone and…it was gone. All of it. Everything. No Instagram. In a hot daze, I dropped the beignet and tried to log on repeatedly. A message appeared: YOUR ACCOUNT HAS BEEN DISABLED.

Wait, WHAT??? All of those followers, friends, new friends, contacts, idols! Gone! And over a nude that was more Botticelli than Playboy? My heart dropped. I'M A MOM FOR GOODNESS SAKE! 80% of my photos are of my dumpling son and the rest are of fashion, beauty, friends, and frickin’ selfies! Wow. I felt like crying or killing someone.

Did it matter that my Instagram was private? That I posted a beautiful photo by Juergen Teller? No. I guess not.

Instagram's rule is written as follows: “1. You may not post violent, nude, partially nude, discriminating, unlawful, hateful, pornographic, or sexually suggestive photos or other content via the Service.” Nishimoto found the inclusion of nudity to be ridiculous:

Why is “nude” in the same vein as hateful, violent, discriminating, unlawful, and sexually suggestive? What if it’s a fashion nude? A classic painting of a nude? What if it’s art, and where do you draw the line? I was drowning in questions.

I have seen Instagrams of girls that are fully clothed but sexually suggestive as all get out. Even partially clothed! I've seen selfies from women AND men that make my Mariacarla look like Bo Peep and their accounts are up and running, trailed by the thousands. I actually felt hurt.

Okay, here is the thing: while I am all for people being proud of their bodies, and I think nude photos, porn, suggestive pictures and the like are all awesome — and should be legal, obviously — in their own ways, I do not think Instagram is the place to fight this battle.

First of all, it's a privately-designed app. They can make whatever rules they want to. We can complain about them, yes, but in the end, we're still using something designed by people who are allowed to make whatever rules they want regarding what content is uploaded. Do I wish that accounts could include nudity? I guess so, as long as there was some way to warn users in the event that they are underage. Again, while I don't think nudity is some sort of shameful thing that should be hidden from kids forever, I also think it's impossible to universally classify pornographic versus non-pornographic nudity, so it should simply all contain warnings if it allowed on a social media site. And honestly, I don't really understand why she is so upset when the rules are explicitly stated.

Second, it wasn't her photo to post. I'm fairly active on Instagram and I occasionally see people post content that does not belong to them. Typically, I unfollow this person because (A) it's not really cool to put pictures up that don't belong to you, particularly when they're uncredited and (B) if I wanted to see tons of photos that didn't belong to the posters, I would just go on Tumblr. Being “pleased with your post” because of how many likes you receive on a photo that doesn't belong to you on an app that has rules against such a post makes you a bit unsympathetic when it comes to fighting against anything relating to the ability to post whatever you want.

I, as well, am frustrated with the bizarre bar set between “okay” and “not okay” when it comes to nudity, especially female nudity. But the place to argue this isn't really on a social media site — nor along with an argument for the right to post images you do not own.

Photo: Juergen Teller