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The Next Battleground

The Next Battleground

Instagram has a history of sexist and unpredictable censorship, which allows some celebrities to post explicit photos and not others. For example, a photo of Miley Cyrus sitting down completely nude or Kim Kardashian’s nude winter cover shoot for Paper Magazine are seen as acceptable.

All in all, it is arguably fair to suggest that women are being penalised for baring themselves naturally on Instagram. It started with #FreeTheNipple and it looks to be followed by #FreeTheBush!

#FreeThe Nipple has been swatted by Instagram’s strict regulations surrounding the posting of pictures which show female nipples, which result in instant deletion. However, unsurprisingly, men are still free to bare theirs on the platform.

#FreeTheNipple is part of an equality movement in the US that uses social media and film to fight against censorship laws, as it is illegal in thirty-seven states for women to appear topless or even to breast feed in public.

Many celebrities have showed their support for the movement, such as Rumer and Scout Willis and Rihanna. They do this posting photos on the social media platforms the most common being that of Instagram. However, many of these pictures in support of the movement have been taken down. Miley Cyrus being one of many who posted a photo in support of the Free The Nipple campaign. Miley posted a photo, on Instagram that was previously published by W Magazine. Cara Delevingne has also shown support for the campaign via Instagram, one of her more publicised photo’s showed the similarities between the male and female nipple. Underneath the man’s photo is the word “Free” whilst underneath the women’s who has tag across her nipple is “Censored”.

Following the #FreeTheNipple campaign fighting for equal rights for women to bare their chests, #FreeTheBush looks to be the next fight.

An image posted by Sticks and Stones Agency that showed two models, unedited, in their natural beauty has caused for the agency’s Instagram account, with over 106K followers, to be deleted. The only explanation being the pubic hair emerging from the sides of the models bikinis - or of course the tiny bit of nipple on show.   

It is believed that the account was deleted due to the showing of a women’s pubic hair: this is not the first account to be penalised for such photos. At the beginning of the year, the Creative Director for LiveFast magazine posted a picture on Instagram showing a woman’s pubic hair, which was taken down. There was no nudity involved therefore suggesting that it was the pubic hair which caused the offence. Petra Collins also had her account deleted on Instagram for a similar image of her own body from the waist down. Collins has stated that image that she posted was deleted because it did not meet society’s standards of femininity.

The Director for Sticks and Stones agency has stated in an interview since that “Clearly this is absolutely sexist. Instagram believes that women should wax or get off their platform.”  If men are able to post photo’s of their pubic hair poking out of their underwear and swimsuits why should women be any different?  

In reply to the outrage over #FreeTheBush, a spokesperson from Instagram confirmed that they don’t always get it right and that the account of Sticks and Stones agency has been reactiviated. Unfortunately nothing has been said in response of #FreeTheNipple.

From what has been suggested, although Instagram have admitted to their mistakes it looks as if there is not a clear policy which dictates what photos are acceptable and what are seen as offensive. What confuses people more is that they are not being told why the photo has resulted in the deletion of the account. The actions taken by Instagram to prevent and stop these photos which it deems offensive are arguably a little too extreme and border on a breach of the right to the freedom of expression. Surely a more appropriate way of dealing with these scenarios would be for Instagram to delete the photo, not the account and to send the holder of the account a warning as well as an explanation of why the photo was deleted? Therefore the account holder can understand and rectify the situation in the future. However, maybe that’s too sensible!


Nina is in her Honours year at The University of Strathclyde in Glasgow studying History. She loves keeping fit and healthy at the gym and singing to her hearts content. Because of Nina's love of all things history related, she has a passion for reading, writing and researching. Nina is the Editor-in-Chief for an online magazine for female students at Strathclyde called Her Campus Strath and wants to continue her passion for writing after graduation. 


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