Plus-size women who want to show off their style on Instagram are out of luck if they want to use the hashtag #curvy.
The platform has blocked it, as first reported by Lindsay Robinson at Mashable. A spokesperson from Instagram told BI this is because the tag was being used to share photos that violate the platform’s rules about nudity.
Now, if you seach “curvy” within the platform, Instagram will suggest a number of longer hashtags that start with the word “curvy,” like #curvygirl and #curvyfit.
And if you click on a photo that’s already been hashtagged #curvy in order to see similar photos, you’ll get a message that says “No Posts Yet.”
This isn’t accurate — plenty of women are using the #curvy label. You can find many of them by searching the similar hashtags like #curvyfashion and #curvyfit.
Instagram confirmed to us that they did block #curvy because of the nudity issue. This is similar to Instagram’s choice to block the eggplant emoji from being searched due to its phallic connotations.
Blogger Sarah Chiwaya writes about plus-size fashion at her site, Curvily. She finds the ban discouraging.
“I think what this boils down to is the fact that curvier bodies are simply treated as more obscene than thin bodies,” she said, “even when there is just as much exposed.”
She and other members of the body positive community are making posts, like the one below from user @brittonyaaa, on Instagram to protest the ban.
This ban frustrates Chiwaya because it could slow down the body acceptance movement that’s taken hold online.
“The idea that all bodies are beautiful and worthy of respect is starting to take hold in a way it never has before,” she said, “and a big reason for that is the increased representation of different body types on social media. For Instagram to stomp all over one of the most popular hashtags for women above model size is incredibly disapopinting.”
She also pointed out that while #curvy is banned, #thin and #skinny are still intact. If you search either of those, Instagram will let you see the photos associated with it, but with a content advisory saying the images “may contain graphic content.”
“Their excuse about nudity is just that — an excuse,” Chiwaya said. “You can find nudity in any hashtag. I’ve literally (and unfortunately) seen a penis while looking at the #puppies tag. Reporting material that violates the policy is the mechanism in place to deal with that — not banning a widely used tag outright.”
She pointed out that #curvy is being treated the same way as the #naked or #sex tags.
“Instagram is just perpetuating that curvy = obscene trope,” she said.
Chiwaya relies on Instagram to promote her business and website, and she discovered much of the body positive community through the #curvy hashtag years ago, she said. She worries that younger users might never discover those communities now that the hashtag is banned.
She’s found workarounds like the tags #celebratemysize and #fatshion, and suggests people who want to view body positive content use hashtags like #loveyourshape, #imnoangel, and her own #pullingoffacroptop.
“Curvy is not obscene, and should not be treated as such,” Chiwaya said.
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