Instagram, you are awesome most of the time, your filters basically changed my life. (What would I do without Valencia and Lo-Fi? Never take photos again, probably.) But we need to have a sit-down because you messed up hard. No, this is not about how you crop my photos weird and I have to use the SquareFX app so you can actually see the entire photo I took. This is actually serious.
So, everyone else listening in on this open letter, here’s what went down: 19-year old college student Samm Newman posted pictures of herself on Instagram in her bra and underwear.
Newman is a fuller-figured woman and proud of her body, and her Instagram account has been a safe place for Newman to be body positive and connect with like-minded young women. Newman was shocked to her core when Instagram deleted her photos and shut down her account.
Instagram claimed that Newman had violated their community standards by “sharing photos that show nudity or mature content.” Except here’s the thing. Instagram hasn’t deleted the millions of photos of slimmer girls in bikinis posted on their app.
“Fat is not a bad word,” Newman told NBC in an interview. “How confident can you be if you keep censoring yourself because people don’t want to look at you?”
Instagram has since reinstated Newman’s account and issued an apology for their screw up. Here’s what the social media company had to say for itself:
“When our team processes reports from other members of the Instagram community, we occasionally make a mistake. In this case, we wrongly removed content and worked to rectify the error as soon as we were notified. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
An apology is always nice and appreciated, but real talk, Newman’s story had to air on NBC before Instagram made amends.. A forced apology is not really an apology. And this Instagram apology feels like the most forced of apologies. I mean, “apologizing for inconvenience?” Really? This wasn’t inconvenient, this was a damaging and hurtful act, even if it was a “mistake.”
It’s also not the first time in recent memory that Instagram has made this type of blunder. A few months ago, plus-size advocate and Instagram user Meghan Tonjes also had her photos deleted from the site. Instagram apologized for the mistake then too, claiming, “our guidelines put limitations on nudity and mature content, but we recognize that we don’t always get it right.”
The fact is, Instagram, you have a body image problem—that’s what you need to apologize for, and that’s what you need to work on rectifying.