Instagram is one of my favourite apps. I spend an embarrassing amount of time on it. And why? Because I follow wonderful, inspirational people who spread positivity.
Instagram helped me see that there were all these people out there living amazing lives, and most importantly they ate! They helped me to normalise my views of how people lived and this was critical for me getting better. You could eat AND be happy. In fact eating helped people fuel these amazing lives. Quick, get me a fork.
However recently Instagram banned the hashtag ‘#curvy’ and this made me so sad. They apparently banned it because it was being used on pornographic images, and sure, no one needs to be seeing that over their breakfast.
But curvy is also a positive word that symbolises women’s pride in their body. It rebalances all those images that are thrown in women’s faces of size zero models. #Curvy tells us that we don’t have to pay attention to all those adverts for diet foods, exercise DVDs, plastic surgery. It tells us that there are all these different body types that are acceptable and beautiful and lovable.
All those women who used #curvy on their photos were putting themselves out there and taking a risk. They are acting as pioneers for all of us women, being brave enough to stand up and say, ‘hey, I have curves, and they’re awesome‘ – and damn right, they’re beautiful. But by banning #curvy Instagram is sending out a message that being curvy is something we shouldn’t talk about, and that we should in fact be ashamed of. And when we live in a world where girls in Primary School are already worrying about being fat, and eating disorders are becoming more common, surely this is a bad thing?
Curvy is not synonomous with pornography. If Instagram removes #curvy, people posting pornographic images will just find some other hashtag to use. Unfortunately there are always going to be people posting stupid things on social media, and no matter how much banning or reporting of users we do, they’ll always find a way of coming back. However women who want to celebrate their body shape shouldn’t have to relabel themselves. They shouldn’t have to fight to celebrate their healthy, beautiful bodies. They shouldn’t feel like it’s shameful to use a hashtag that
Instagram has a responsibility to make sure that it’s not harmful to its users, and yes, I’m glad that it’s taking actions to prevent the posting of pornographic images. However Instagram hasn’t thought through how the banning of #curvy affects those users who want to use it for something positive, and has added to the reasons people wrongly feel ashamed for their body shape.