Instagram has pledged to do better when it comes to censoring plus size Black women, following a campaign from model Nyome Nicholas-Williams (who uses the handle @CurvyNyome). When a topless photo of her was removed from the app, Nyome spoke out against the decision and started the hashtag #IWantToSeeNyome.
When a white plus size model's photo was also later removed, a petition was started regarding the censorship of plus size women generally. Following this, Nyome shared her disappointment that it had taken efforts away from her original cause that highlighted the censorship of Black bodies specifically, on social media (a separate petition 'Stop Instagram From Censoring Fat Black Women' was then started by one of her followers and has since received over 15,000 signatures).
Posting about her own picture being taken down and the subsequent petition being started, Nyome wrote, "It would seem as though all of my work (that I have been doing for YEARS) – to make black plus sized bodies be seen – has been swept under the carpet and all of the work I did last week – to get the image back up, even speaking to Instagram via zoom of course with the help of @ginamartin – has been forgotten about.
"An image of a plus sized white women has been taken down and now a petition to stop Instagram taking down images of “all plus sized bodies” has been made alongside a hashtag... Black bodies once again have been pushed to the wayside and whiteness has taken centre stage as usual. I will always champion plus sized bodies and push for them to be seen but let’s be realistic: the support for me has now gone because a white plus sized woman’s image has been taken down."
Nyome added that her image was taken down first and that Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, even admitted that the platform has a problem with the way Black people's content is reviewed and shared, in a blog post earlier this year.
"So what I want to understand is how this has turned into an all lives matter campaign!? And a new hashtag [has been] created," Nyome continued. "I’ve been overshadowed and the point = missed. The purpose of doing this isn’t to “go viral” it’s to actually create change... #IWantToSeeNyome."
The picture in question, taken by Alex Cameron, has since been reinstated on the app:
Instagram has now responded to the criticism too and set up a meeting with Nyome, during which it was agreed that they'd make a change in the way they review images. A Facebook company spokesperson [Facebook own Instagram] told Cosmopolitan UK:
"Our policies are designed to ensure content on Instagram is appropriate for people as young as 13, while allowing a diverse and global community to express themselves. This can be a hard balance to strike, and that means there are times when our policies fall short. We don’t allow breast squeezing as it is often associated with pornographic content, but we know we’ve made mistakes in how this has been enforced.
"To help address this, we’ve shared new guidance with our review teams to help them better distinguish between squeezing breasts and simply holding or covering them, and we’re looking closely at our existing policy to understand where we can improve this experience for our plus-size community. We celebrate this community on Instagram and it is never our intention to silence their voices or bodies."
Nyome also shared her thanks to those who supported her along the way with her quest to make a real change.
"This the face of a policy change maker! Instagram has started up reviews on how they assess semi-naked pictures! We made enough noise that change had to be made. Thank you ALL for the support. I just got off of the phone with @instagram and changes will be made, but there is still work to do as this is guidance with their review teams. I will be ensuring this progresses and comes to be a FULL policy change. This is the first step but look what I did ya’ll. Black plus sized bodies aren’t going anywhere!!"
This is a great first step – a huge well done to Nyome for not letting this one rest.
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