Hello, I am Michelle, @fatfeministmich. I’m not a big influencer or anyone famous, but I have been following the body positive and fat activist communities on Instagram for quite a few years now. It started for me with the lovely @fullerfigurefullerbust, and now almost all the accounts I follow belong in these communities. And I have seen pictures been removed, people be shadowbanned, and people losing their accounts so many times. Some manage to get them back, if you are lucky. Some never do!
@_adydelvalle, a fat gay latino man with a “female-looking” chest got his original account deleted in May; he STILL hasn’t gotten his account reinstated. It’s been months and numerous appeals, his story has been featured in big magazines like i-D and Rolling Stones, but complete silence back from @instagram. Some people get hit with the shadowban-stick on and off, like @fullerfigurefullerbust. She has several hashtags that she started, where at times only reposts of her photos will show, not her original posts. Her engagement is wildly fluctuating.
Others like @shooglet, a queer photographer that takes beautiful and thought-invoking portraits of fat people, are basically completely hidden by @instagram (when I try to tag them now, their name doesn’t even appear on the list! I can only hope the tag actually works!). Beautiful, wonderful artists and photographers I have followed have given up and shut down their profiles. The shadowbans and algorithm crushed them to the point where they got so frustrated that it wasn’t worth it anymore.
It has absolutely gotten worse through the years too. A couple of years ago it was mentioned here and there; now it’s basically the norm for fat folks and non-conforming folks to be shadowbanned to some degree. How wrong is it, that we now expect to be censored by a social media, simply for the way we look, who we love, or the art forms we present?
The way @instagram is doing things now, is stealing people’s livelihoods and income. People depend on this platform for their income, but they never know if their work will actually be shown to anyone! These people spend so much of their time and energy to create content, they share their lives and souls with us. And an AI with a broken code decides wether or not they will be allowed to reach their FOLLOWERS! The audience that has said “yes, I like this person and want to see their content and support them”!
@instagram steals from us all. Seeing fat bodies, queer bodies, sex workers, POC, people with disabilities, people with old self harm scars, all the bodies traditional media either hide or show only in a particular (often negative) light is SO important for us all. Finding the body activism community has healed my own relationship with my body, and I know it has done the same for thousands of others. Seeing humanity in all its variations shows us that we are all normal; you’re not a freak for having stretch marks or cellulite, you can be sexy and be wanted whatever your your size or shape, you are equally worthy no matter your sexuality, ability, gender identity and skin colour. We NEED to see the diversity in people, it enriches us all. Bodies are beautiful, in all their variations.
Children as young as 4 and 5 years have negative body image, know they are “wrong” because their skin is too dark or they are told to be a boy when they know they are a girl. Mental health issues are getting to be a bigger problem all around the world. It is a known and stated fact that “perfect” social media profiles make people depressed, make them hate themselves, think they are wrong. And @instagram wants to ban the people who can be the cure. Where is the logic in that?