Late last week, artist Rupi Kaur posted a photo to Instagram. It's one of those innocuous, clichéd photos in which a languid woman reclines on her bed, except for the fact that there's a visible patch of menstrual blood on the woman's tracksuit pants and on the bed's sheets. The image doesn't violate any of Instagram's Community Guidelines, but the social media platform removed it from Rupi Kaur's account – twice! – before apologising and reinstating it.
Instagram are pretty vigilant at removing photos that depict women as they actually are. Sure, an Instagram user has to complain before an image is removed, but Instagram then has to decide to remove it, and is doing so to these images when they don't violate any of their Community Guidelines – well, actually, they violate the "keep your clothes on" Community Guideline, but so does everyone who has posted a photographic of themselves wearing swimwear. Furthermore, when you compare these images of women to some of the images that Instagram don't remove, which depict, for starters violence, misogyny, drug-taking, gambling – one particular account springs to mind – they're pretty fucking harmless.
Here are the six most ridiculous times Instagram have removed images from their platform, for what I can only assume – based on the fact that there is literally nothing else going on in them – is the depiction of natural women. Why are they so terrified of us?
1) Petra Collins' pubic hair
Petra Collins took to the Internet to decry the way Instagram censored her body, when they removed the below image from her account. It's basically The Perfect Instagram Image (nostalgic, glittery, crafty, depicts ideal the ideal female form by today's standards) save for the little tufts of pubic hair around Petra's underwear. Petra started a new Instagram account, which now 113, 000 followers – some people are obviously picking up what she's putting down.
2) Another pubic hair thing
Instagram deleted the account of Sticks and Stones agency when they posted this photo to it. At the time, Ainsley Hutchence, director of Sticks and Stones, told the Huffington Post, "From what I can gather I do feel as though men can get away with a lot more in terms of what Instagram deems to be of a sexual nature". Instagram apologised and reinstated their account.
3) Courtney Adamo's child
This is just the worst. Instagram removed this image, of Courtney Adamo's tiny daughter proudly puffing up her belly, and deleted her account, presumably because it depicts nudity. The subtext of this removal, that female childrens' naked bodies need to be censored, is surely worse than the image itself.
4) Samm Newman in her underwear
Samm Newman, who had gained confidence by joining body positive communities on Instagram, had posted many photos of herself in bras, shorts and small items of clothing before she posted the below image, of herself in underwear, to her account and it was immediately deleted. Newman reached out to media who then covered the story. Instagram apologised and reinstated Newman's account, but not before she was made to feel terrible about herself.
5) Megan Tonjes's butt
Megan Tonje is a singer/songwriter who had the below image of her fully-covered butt removed by Instagram for no other reason than – as she explains in the killer YouTube video in which she takes Instagram to town for their misogyny – the fact that she's fat. Again, Instagram saw the error of their ways and restored the content.
6) Rupi Kaur's menstrual blood image
While the rest of these images infringe on the "keep your clothes on" rule in Instagram's Community Guidelines (although so does everything else on Instagram), Rupi Kaur's image, which depicts a fully-clothed women languidly lying on her bed, could only have been removed because of the spot of menstrual blood clearly visible in the image. Instagram have since apologised.
These images all have one thing in common: they depict women as they actually are, rather than in the unrealistic, aspirational way most images on Instagram do, none of which are deleted, possibly to feed the consumer-driven nature of the platform, possibly for a myriad other reasons (but probably for the former). Regardless, teenagers now consider Instagram the most influential social media platform.
So, Instagram is a place where over 200 million young people are posting images and influencing each other. Instagram has a responsibility to foster the accurate representation of women by not removing the few real images of real women that exist on the thing.
Liked this? Read these articles about the representation of women:
Have news tips? Send them through to us at email@example.com
Subscribe to our e-newsletter for news you want, fashion you like and opinions to share.