"We fighting that good fight"

By Christina Oehler
February 21, 2020

Brooklyn-based blogger Noelle Downing is calling Instagram out on its double standard for removing images based on body size—and she's using her personal story to make her point.

On Monday, Downing shared a photo of herself posing topless in a pair of tights and high heels. Although her photo appears to be a bit revealing, Downing has her chest completely covered with her arms, so her nipples are unseen in the shot. 

Downing said that when she logged on to Instagram later that day, she had a notification from the app informing her that her post had been taken down. 

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“I read through what they said I violated and was just confused,” Downing tells Health. “I didn’t do what Instagram was saying in order to get my post taken down. I went and looked at my feed and I was just mad then.”

Courtesy of Noelle Downing

But Downing wasn’t just mad about having her post removed. She explains that she knew the reason it was likely removed was because of her size. 

“I’ve heard from many plus and curvier girls that Instagram takes down more sexy or risqué photos (even workout looks where you can see dimples)  just simply because they are bigger women and it’s not fully accepted yet and I was like wow. It’s now happened to me,” she says.

Downing realized that her post was likely taken down because users had reported it, which she believes is a total double standard to Instagram’s anti-bullying campaign.  

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“Instagram acts like it’s so focused on internet bullying by removing ‘likes’ but then takes down larger women’s photos due to someone reporting,” she says. “That’s just another form of online bullying for the plus size and body positive community. And from a company really trying to have a hard stance about internet bullying, yes I do expect more.”

Downing took to Instagram Stories to explain her frustrations, and even gave examples of other nude photos that Instagram had not removed. Posts from celebrities Miley Cyrus and Kendall Jenner are allowed, even though they are showing significantly more skin than Downing’s photo. 

Downing says that this instance is just one example of the constant battle she faces with the double standard of body size and sexuality. 

“It’s cute when a size two wears a glittery glam dress that’s low cut but when a size 10 does it’s unacceptable and can’t be approved for posting,” she says. “The double standards are just still very much there even if not directly from Instagram. I think women are stunning at each and every size—XXXS to 10X. There’s no room for size discrimination on social media, in ads, and in real life.”

To combat this double standard, Downing reposted her topless photo two days later. So far, the post is still standing. 

“We fighting that good fight,” she wrote in her caption, with the hashtags “#bodypositive” and “#cantstopme

In a day, the post received over 28,000 likes and 800-plus comments—most of which were in full support of her mission. “Anyone who reports this, I’m pullin up,” one user commented. “Don't let Instagram play favorites!! Your content is truly inspiring and I am so happy that you're resisting,” another wrote.

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While Downing knows the fight for body equality on Instagram is far from over, she hopes that her followers can see that being body positive is a journey, and it’s not always easy. 

“There’s no perfect day you wake up and never have off days again,” Downing says. “You think you’re accepted and feeling fabulous and then a bump in the road comes along (such as Instagram deleting your photo) but remember: keep fighting and keep being positive about your body.”

She continued, “We need to see it all out there—the artistic photos, the sexy photos, the fashion photos, the close up of our body’s imperfection photos in every single size! And I won’t stop until I see that and I won’t think it’s enough until I see that.”

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