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Nyome Nicholas-Williams Alexandra Cameron
Photography Alexandra Cameron

Instagram is finally changing its nudity policy

The news comes after Instagram was accused of censoring and silencing Black, plus-size model Nyome Nicholas-Williams in August

After years of controversy, Instagram and Facebook will be updating its policy on nudity to help end discrimination of plus-size black women on its platform and ensure all body types are treated fairly.

The news comes after Instagram was accused of censoring and silencing plus-size model Nyome Nicholas-Williams in August. Photographs of her sitting on a chair, wearing cycling shorts, and covering her breasts with her arms, were removed from the platform for allegedly violating the platform’s semi-nudity guidelines.

The platform was accused of repeatedly discriminating against Black people, plus-size users, and other marginalised communities, by deleting their photos, while allowing similar photos of semi-naked skinny white women on its feeds.

What followed was a wave of support by content creators: A petition was launched and signed by almost 17,000 people, and supportive artwork of Nicholas-Williams was created. Stephanie Yeobah, a fellow Black plus-size influencer, raised the issue to Instagram directly on her behalf, and activist Gina Martin, who led the charge to see through the vital law against upskirting, amplified the cause. The campaign even reached the streets with graffiti painted across the walls of London.

According to a new report by the Observer, Facebook (Instagram’s parent company) denied that Nicholas-Williams had been racially discriminated against, but said that its former policy on “boob squeezing” had caused her photos to be removed.

A spokesperson from Instagram confirmed that pictures of Nicholas-Williams were originally taken down: “We do not allow breast squeezing because it can be most commonly associated with pornography.”

Now, a spokesperson for Instagram has said: “As we looked into this more closely, we realised it was an instance where our policy on breast squeezing wasn’t being correctly applied. Hearing Nyome’s feedback helped us understand where this policy was falling short, and how we could refine it.”

The new policy on nudity will apply across Instagram and Facebook and come into effect this week.

Responding to the news, Nicholas-Williams wrote on Instagram: “We have put our heart and souls into this campaign and to see it come to fruition is insane!”

She added: “There’s still a lot of work to be done, as black plus-sized women continue to be censored in many ways; and white women STILL tried to hijack and make it their campaign. There is of course a huge racial imbalance in the algorithm that still exists as white bodies are promoted and don’t have to worry about censorship of their posts but black bodies still have to justify presence on the platform, this has also been brought to Instagrams attention! But when we put our minds to it... we can achieve literally ANYTHING!!”