Instagram is slowly but surely making some much-needed changes to its policy around what constitutes as nudity, after a months-long campaign by model “Curvynyome”.
Nyome Nicholas-Williams – who refers to herself as a plus-sized model – said in August that while Instagram consistently took down her photos on the platform for ‘breaking nudity rules’, she still saw many similar images of scantily-clad thin, white women all across Instagram.
At the time, Nicholas-Williams, who is Black, shared photographs of herself sitting on a chair against a purple flowery background covering her breasts with her arms. Taken by photographer Alexandra Cameron, the image was beautiful and yet was shortly after taken down by Instagram.
Cameron later shared a side-by-side comparison of an image from a shoot with Nicholas-Williams alongside with a semi-nude portrait of her own.
“I cannot imagine Instagram deciding that the way I look is against community guidelines,” Cameron wrote in the caption. “I can’t imagine how it feels to be repeatedly censored and targeted just for being her.”
The campaign soon became a hashtag #IWantToSeeNyome, which showed the erasure that thin, white models did not seem to have to deal with. A petition was launched and signed by almost 17,000 people, with other influencers bringing attention to the issue.
Finally, the campaign was successful: Instagram said on Monday that after investigating it found that its policy on "breast squeezing" had been inappropriately applied to Nicholas-Williams' images. "Hearing her feedback helped us understand where this policy was falling short, and how we could refine it," an Instagram representative told Business Insider.
"With the new update, we'll allow content where someone is simply hugging, cupping or holding their breasts,” they said.
"We do have to draw the line somewhere so when people squeeze their breasts in a grabbing motion with bent fingers or if there is a clear change in the shape of the breasts, that content will still break our rules," the representative continued.
While this fixation on ‘squeezing’ vs ‘hugging’ or ‘cupping’ seems mildly ridiculous, we’ll let it slide because at least acknowledging the problem is a progressive step forward
Nicholas-Williams told The Observer over the weekend:
This is a huge step and I am glad a dialogue has now been opened.
She later wrote on Instagram. "Look what happens when three women set out to change the world!"
Many of her followers shared in her excitement:
“What an achievement! You've worked so hard and created real, meaningful change! Absolutely amazing,” one person commented. “A true hero and legend. [You're] inspiring so many people out there,” another said.
While everyone seemed happy about the news, the model added that Instagram still had a lot of work to do when it comes to the “continued censorship” of Black plus-sized women on the platform.
"There is of course a huge racial imbalance in the algorithm that still exists as white bodies are promoted and don't have to worry about censorship of their posts but Black bodies still have to justify presence on the platform," Nicholas-Williams wrote.