Hi. This is an open letter. No, I'm not Taylor Swift, but I do have 500 followers (almost) and I love you, so you should listen to me. I'm writing to ask you to change your community guidelines. You ban female nipples, but allow male nipples. As a result of these skewed standards for nudity, women's bodies become oversexualized—setting them up to be censored, targeted, and abused. Not cool. So, could you please stop? Here's why:
1. You look silly
ICYMI everyone is laughing at you and your rules.
Exhibit A: Orange Is the New Black's Matt McGorry highlights the absurdity of censoring female nipples by photoshopping two very famous female nipples (Crissy Teigen's and Miley Cyrus') onto his not-so-famous male nipples. He's kinda breaking your rules by not breaking them to make fun of them. And he's not the only one.
How many emojis need to carry the burden of this absurd rule before we can collectively move on? Emojis belong in captions. Not on nipples.
2. It’s not working, anyway
So Instagram, how often do you check Instagram? (My job is on Instagram, so I check Instagram more than I check real life tbh.) Maybe you haven't noticed, but there are dick pics everywhere. If you are trying to keep sexual imagery off your platform, you are failing. (Not to mention images of drug use and violence, which are apparently less threatening to you than a female areola.) Women are being sexual on Instagram. Men are being sexual on Instagram. No rule or banned hashtag will stop it. It’s the internet.
3. You've made the entire female body a target
Creating a culture in which photos of nipples "break the rules" has made the entire female body taboo—an illicit thing to objectify and attack. Posts are being taken down that show breast feeding, stretch marks, and periods. Even posts of bikini tops with fake nipples on them have been targeted! And wait, being curvy now isn't okay, either? I can't keep up with all the ways that it is not okay to be a woman. Can we live?
4. You’re fighting the wrong fight
Women's bodies are not inherently offensive—it's abusive people who produce offensive content. Make those people your targets. Focus on promoting a community where misogyny is unacceptable. Here’s a clue: Women aren't responsible for misogyny. Assholes are.
Focus on those assholes ↑. Delete their posts. Cheesegrater? Really?
5. It's time
It’s 2015. Love is love. We made it to Pluto. My name is Caitlyn. My watch talks to me. We can have nipples on Instagram. We are ready.
6. You’re better than this
Seriously, you guys are awesome. Your values of community, creativity, and innovation are why we love you. They're why more than 300 million people use Instagram to express themselves, meet each other, and explore the world. You have literally changed people's lives. We know you have it in you.
7. Women are kinda your thing
As feminist champion Cindy Gallop likes to say, "There is a huge amount of money to be made out of taking women seriously." I'm no economist, but I am willing to bet that being nicer to women = $$$$$$$$$$.
Currently, your policies limit, shame, and anger your biggest asset. Changing your rules will only make women love you more.
8. The world won’t end
Making female nipples “legal” on your platform will normalize them and allow them to be something more than sexual objects. And you know what? Instagram will not burn down. It'll just look a little like a beach in Europe. Some of the women are topless. Some aren't. Everybody is fine. The kids are all right.
9. Equality and stuff
Even if it wasn't time, even if it wasn't easy, even if it wasn't good for you—change your policy because it’s the right thing to do.
You will be taking a stance for women's rights. You will be saying to the world: Women should abide by the same rules as men. Women should not be ashamed of their bodies. Women are not sexual objects. Women are beautiful. Women should be respected. We love women. FIRST LIKE.
We know you've been thinking about this stuff. You have made slight changes to your community guidelines recently, allowing photos of mastectomy scars and breastfeeding. This is great. You're almost there! Change your definition of nudity to be equal for men and women.
Better yet, post a photo to show us where you stand. You know what they say…
But really, Instagram. I <3 you so hard. That's why I care.
P.S. I am speaking on behalf of myself, not on behalf of Fusion.
Elisa is a designer & illustrator that writes (and doodles) about pop culture, women, diversity and all things art. She is the human behind Fusion's Instagram account and Elvis Presley is her spirit animal.