Challenging Social Media Censorship

I personally follow many body-acceptance activists and fat fashion icons because I am plus-size myself and I love the community space Instagram and social media offer us. Talking to people who make similar experiences or who can relate to your personal problems gives you a sense of belonging and feeling supported. In addition to that, these fat influencers are a great source of inspiration and motivation to love yourself regardless of your weight. The way they dress and act can (unfortunately) be seen as a rebellious act in contrast to what is apparently socially acceptable. We need these kinds of role models and brave self-loving activists in order to see each body as normal and worthy of love and challenge our viewing habits.

As a fat person myself, I love seeing different body shapes in my timeline. I simply adore seeing other fat people experimenting with fashion, expressing themselves, and presenting themselves in whichever ways they like. I also believe it is great to see the skin of bigger bodies, including back rolls, tummy fat, wobbly arms, stretch mark, cellulite, etc. Showing large bodies the same way as we do show skinny or more widely accepted body types, however, is still received entirely differently, not only from other people but also from social media’s algorithms and its censorship.

Nudity is a huge part of social media. Many men and women show themselves in swimwear on the beach, in cute lingerie, or even naked if they please. So why do we have to differentiate between various body types that decide to be nude? Marginalized bodies want to be seen and accepted like any other body and deserve to exist, or not? It always breaks my heart to see a beautiful post of a fat body only to see it is gone 30 minutes later. This experience is oftentimes followed by an explanatory screenshot in the user’s story that shows a notification about something like “against the community guidelines”. This leaves me speechless and incredibly angry.

Exactly this happened once (or most likely many times before) to model and activist Isold Halldorudottir who shared a series called “Vulnerability and strength” on her Instagram. It was deleted several times, but fortunately, it is here to stay. And the pictures are truly beautiful and moving.

The censoring, removal from platforms, and shadowbanning are simply unfair. Straight-sized bodies are often not affected by this phenomenon, which results in alienating Black, queer, or plus-size bodies, who are definitely affected. Marginalized bodies are continuously disappearing on social media because of unfair and unreasonable guidelines. However, even more visible is the power of hatred.

These outmoded ideals and unfair censorships need to stop. Marginalized people and their bodies will not just disappear because social media makes them. They are here to stay! A recent example and an act of protest against this problem is ‘Exhibit’, a series of portraits showing three plus-size models in statuesque poses and atmospheric light, which recently debuted on DAZED. The series was conceptualized by creative director David Evans and captured by Timo Kerber. The three models are Char Ellesse, Enam Asiama, and Nyome Nicholas-Williams.

All three protagonists have been shadowbanned or censored before with posts that are hardly any different from their ‘straight-sized colleagues. Therefore, this editorial can be seen as a rallying cry against censorship and a call to those with the power to incite changes within the illogical systems of social media. And if you’d like to support this rally and help marginalized bodies to be seen and heard, please like, share, and save the pictures you don’t want to disappear.