Instagram’s problem with Women

I love Instagram.  It’s a wonderful place to showcase some of your work, create your own personal gallery, get social, interact with other photographers, editors, and curators, keep up to date with family. It’s a great platform. However…

Last week I was reminded of Instagram’s weird issue with women. As I was scrolling through my Instagram feed I came across a photo by Jocelyn Bain Hogg of the photo cooperative VII. The model in the photo is using a kitchen knife to cut off a tag from her dress. And, as you can see, her breasts are exposed. As you can also see there are two “X”s over her nipples. No they are not two pieces of tape applied to the nipples by the model herself, they are digitally added to the image so that it can pass muster for the censors at Instagram. That’s right, one of the worlds most respected photo agencies has to degrade itself and have an employee put little “X”s over the nipples in an image just so they can post it to Instagram.

My friend and colleague, Lisa Hogben, posted a self portrait couple years back showing off her damaged shoulder, bruised and broken in a skiing accident. She made the photo just after a shower and as it happens you could see one breast and nipple. She posted it to our PRISM Instagram account and it was up only a short time before Instagram took it down with a warning of being banned from the platform if similar photos are posted. Lisa later posted the same photo (see below) on her personal IG account but this time with a black strip across the breast. This, the Instagram censors allowed. As Lisa pointed out however this only seems to make the image seem seedier than it really is. How is this a win for Instagram…for any of us?

It takes no time at all to find on Instagram young women, many of whom look as if they’re barely old enough to drive, in little to no clothing, in comically obvious sexualized positions, but as there is no nipple showing there is no censorship. Now think about that. Two adult women in two thoughtful, mature photographs that happen to show nipples, they get the humiliating treatment of censorship. But doe-eyed, hyper-sexualized young women? That’s A-OK.

Again, this attitude toward women from Instagram is not new. The hashtag #freethenipple is one of the most popular hashtags (over 3.6 million posts so far) due to the prudishness regularly exhibited by the censors. But it is still an infantile, degrading attitude.

It’s long past time for Instagram to grow up.


Photo by #JocelynBainHogg / @VIIPhoto. Click on the link in our profile to buy the print! Anouska de Georgiou, singer, songwriter, actress, model and 'It Girl', customizes her party dress by cutting off the label with a kitchen knife inside her apartment in London's trendy Portobello Road before Sir Elton John's summer party in Notting Hill, London, England in June 2005. To celebrate the agency's fifteen year anniversary, VII is offering a very special edition of our VII #printsale — iconic prints for just $100. Each 8×10 photograph is hand-signed by the photographer. They are printed on #Fuji Crystal Archive Paper at New York City's top photographic lab and are beautifully backed and sleeved in fully archival materials. Each print is embossed with the VII logo, and comes with a certificate of authenticity printed on museum quality acid-free paper. The sale ends on June 7, so click on the link in our profile to shop now!

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