Recently, I had my first ever content removed from Instagram for allegedly going against their community guidelines.
It was a Reel - starring the beautiful Stephanie just as she is pictured here.
I used video footage that someone else took for me on their phone - it showed me directing and photographing Stephanie as she's shown here then the person filming comes closer to me to film the image on the back of my camera. After this short footage, I ended the Reel with an upload of the actual photo I took (this image).
The purpose of the Reel was to showcase a little behind-the-scenes process and end result. The audio was the trending sound "So I'm addicted to this". I used this as a reference to write a caption explaining how Boudoir photography and my business are my passions, and I wrote about how I'd worked in HR for 16 years prior to learning how to run my own business. It sparked a great conversation in the comments section and gained a lot of reach really quickly. All in, it was pretty successful.
A couple of hours later however, I received a notification from Instagram that they'd removed the Reel as it had 'violated community guidelines' because it contained 'nudity'.
I can see how the Instagram bots might have thought this as Stephanie's lingerie matches her skin tone. But she's not actually naked. And it begs the question - so what if she was?
Who is this image actually offensive to? It's a beautiful woman, sitting comfortably, quietly confident, simply existing in her own skin. Wearing decadent lingerie and surrounded by gorgeous boho decor. There's nothing sexualised or graphic in this image in the slightest. Even with the sheerness of the clothing, you can't actually see nipples, and her legs are together. There's nothing 'inappropriate' on display.
It's time we started asking the deeper question of why people would find this offensive or inappropriate in the first place. If people are still clutching pearls screaming 'think of the children' when it comes to female nudity - why are we sexualising women in this way? If this photograph was a painting and showcased in a gallery, would parents cover their children's eyes and march them past it? Instagram's current rules are that a person needs to be at least 13 years old to create an account. So someone would need to be at least that age to see this image on Instagram.
We need to address social media's double-standards. How is this different to seeing the latest celebrity provocatively posing in their lingerie that they're selling? Or in a bikini? This image is also of a real person who hasn't been manipulated by Photoshop. Her body in this image is exactly how it is in real life. Isn't it important that people see a true representation of a confident woman rather than one who's body has been digitally manipulated to impossible standards?
And if this was a man sitting in this chair in the same pose - he could have been actually topless and the content would've been deemed 'safe' for people to see.
Censorship on social media is such a prevalent issue across the Boudoir photography genre. Our job is to empower people and help improve their mindset around body image, yet so many of our businesses are shamed by the social media bots telling us the art we've created is inappropriate.
It's 2022 - isn't it about time we dropped the double-standards?