After plus-size model Nyome Nicholas-Williams’ photographs of her sitting on a chair, wearing cycling shorts, and covering her breasts with her arms were removed by Instagram for allegedly violating the platform’s semi-nudity guidelines, the social media platform along with Facebook is finally making changes to its policy on nudity. Plus-size black women on the platform from now on should not be discriminated against, ensuring all body types are treated fairly.
The accusations have been cycling for some time, as numerous plus-size users, and other marginalized communities had their photos removed, while similar photos of semi-naked skinny white women on its feeds were allowed. A launch of a petition followed, which was signed by almost 17,000 people, and supportive artwork of Nicholas-Williams was created. Stephanie Yeboah, a fellow Black plus-size influencer, raised the issue to Instagram directly on her behalf, and activist Gina Martin, who led the charge to see through the vital law against upskirting, amplified the cause. The campaign even reached the streets with graffiti painted across the walls of London.
The reason why Nicholas-Williams’ photos were removed is because they violated Instagram’s former policy on “boob squeezing,” as a spokesperson from Instagram confirmed: “We do not allow breast squeezing because it can be most commonly associated with pornography.” Facebook, according to a new report by the Observer, denied that she had been racially discriminated against.
“As we looked into this more closely, we realised it was an instance where our policy on breast squeezing wasn’t being correctly applied. Hearing Nyome’s feedback helped us understand where this policy was falling short, and how we could refine it,” an Instagram’s spokespearson added. The new policy on nudity will apply across Instagram and Facebook and come into effect this week.
Responding to the news, Nicholas-Williams wrote on Instagram: “We have put our heart and souls into this campaign and to see it come to fruition is insane!”
Check out her post below where she speaks about Instagram’s policy changes below.
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WE FUCKING DID IT!! @ginamartin @alex_cameron and I…we changed an Instagram policy! Look what happens when three women set out to change the world! We have put our heart and souls into this campaign and to see it come to fruition is insane! The observer newspaper (which is out today) has covered the campaign from the beginning and have written another article which highlights the hard work Gina, Alex and I have done (although it states they launched the campaign) this is in fact not the case as Gina, Alex and myself strategised for three months to ensure a change would happen. Hang tight for the full details of the policy change, as I will be detailing more information soon. We worked very hard on this and managed to get Instagram and @mosseri attention and there’s still a lot of work to be done, as black plus sized women continue to be censored in many ways; and white women STILL tried to hijack and make it their campaign. 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, this has also been brought to Instagrams attention! But when we put our minds to it… we can achieve literally ANYTHING!! I’d like to thank the 16 amazing humans that put their names to our open letter and that helped us push our campaign forward! The Instagram policy changes on the 28th, it outlines the difference between ‘breast holding’ or ‘cupping’ which is a celebration of body and ‘breast grabbing’ which is deemed to be pornographic, these images are censored to protect underage users but this policy change should allow them to better differentiate self expression/ art from pornographic content. Hopefully this policy change will bring an end to the censorship of fat black bodies. The last three have been absolutely wild to say the least but we move and move things we did! 🙌🏽💫