Instagram changed its policy on nudity and 'breast squeezing' after a plus-size Black model campaigned against double standards on the platform

Isobel Asher Hamilton
·3 min read
Nyome Nicholas Williams
Instagram originally removed this image of Nyome Nicholas-Williams. It said on Monday that it had amended its policy. Alexandra Cameron
  • Instagram said it amended its rules about nudity following a three-month campaign from a Black plus-size model whose photos were taken down.

  • Nyome Nicholas-Williams said in August that her images were taken down while images of "very naked, skinny white women" remained on Instagram.

  • Instagram said that it had incorrectly applied its rules on "breast squeezing" to Nicholas-Williams' images and that it was adding more nuance to those rules.

  • Instagram said the platform and Facebook would now allow any images where someone is "simply hugging, cupping or holding their breasts." It said they would still ban photos where people are grasping their breasts "in a grabbing motion with bent fingers or if there is a clear change in the shape of the breasts."

Instagram said it added some nuance to its rules about what constitutes nudity after a three-month campaign by a model who said the platform was censoring her images.

Nyome Nicholas-Williams, a plus-size Black model from the UK, said in early August that while Instagram told her it took down her images from a photo shoot for breaking nudity rules, she saw lots of images of equivalently unclothed — or even more-naked — thin, white women on the platform.

"Millions of pictures of very naked, skinny white women can be found on Instagram every day," she told The Observer. "But a fat black woman celebrating her body is banned? It was shocking to me. I feel like I'm being silenced."

Her campaign became a hashtag, #IWantToSeeNyome.

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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. And, if there's any doubt, we'll ask that reviewers allow the content to stay up.

"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. This policy will apply across Instagram and Facebook," the representative said.

"This is a huge step and I am glad a dialogue has now been opened," Nicholas-Williams told The Observer on Sunday. "I want to ensure that I am respected and allowed to use spaces like Instagram, as many other creators do, without the worry of being censored and silenced."

Nicholas-Williams also welcomed the announcement in a post on Instagram on Sunday. "Hopefully this policy change will bring an end to the censorship of fat black bodies," she wrote.

She added that Instagram still needed to do more.

"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," Nicholas-Williams wrote.

In July, Instagram created an internal team to examine racial bias on its platform after it received complaints from underrepresented groups that they were being unfairly targeted by its moderation policies.

Read the original article on Business Insider