An artist called Ruki Kaur posted a photo on Instagram that shows a patch of period blood. It captures the 22-year-old fully clothed on a bed, facing away from the camera, during menstruation. Soon after, Instagram removed the image and told Kaur that it didn’t follow its “Community Guidelines.”
After the first picture was removed, Kaur posted it again, which Instagram again removed.
After Instagram deleted the picture for a second time, Kaur took to other social media avenues to publish the image, Vice Motherboard notes. Kaur published a long statement on
Facebook (which owns Instagram) and Tumblr to explain the purpose of the photo to “demystify the period and make something that is innate ‘normal’ again.”
Thank you @instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique. you deleted a photo of a woman who is fully covered and menstruating stating that it goes against community guidelines when your guidelines outline that it is nothing but acceptable. the girl is fully clothed. the photo is mine. it is not attacking a certain group. nor is it spam. and because it does not break those guidelines i will repost it again.
Kaur is a visual artist and published poet with thousands of fans and followers. Many rallied behind her when she reported that Instagram had taken her art down without a seemingly valid reason. The post is part of a project called “period,” which challenges social stigma around women and periods.
Supporters of Kaur point out that Instagram regularly displays women in bikinis and “sexy selfies,” yet decides to remove images of women going through what they do every month.
Motherboard reports that Instagram removed the photo because it was “flagged” by another user and taken down in error. In turn, Instagram has now apologised to Kaur and restored the picture:
Today, Jessica Valenti on the Guardian highlighted the hypocrisy of the situation: “Breasts in barely-there bikinis are good, but breasts with babies attached them are questionable. Women wearing next to nothing is commonplace, but if you’re over a size 10 your account may be banned.”
It doesn’t make sense for social media to “protect men” from breast milk and periods when there is constant flow of beach snaps and models in skimpy outfits.
“The broader message to women couldn’t be clearer: SeXXXy images are appropriate, but images of women’s bodies doing normal women body things are not,” Valenti adds. “Or, to put a more crass point on it: Only pictures of women who men want to f—, please.”
You can see Kaur’s project and full statement here. The image is now published on Instagram.