Instagram's quasi-apology for banning pubes: "We don't always get it right"

The photo app is under fire again for perpetuating sexist double standards in its image policy

Published January 22, 2015 3:12PM (EST)

    (<a href=''>NinaMalyna</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
(NinaMalyna via Shutterstock)

Instagram might not be as hostile to pubic hair as it made itself out to be earlier this month, when it barred an image of two swimsuit models who happened to sport full bushes. The photo, posted by the Australian magazine Sticks and Stones, prompted Instagram to disable the magazine's account, which the social media company now says was a "mistake."

In the wake of public outrage over the decision to disable Sticks and Stones and remove the photo, Instagram admitted to the Huffington Post that women's pubes might not be the biggest threat -- but a spokesperson effectively defended the company's notoriously strict (and oftentimes patently sexist) nudity policy:

"We try hard to find a good balance between allowing people to express themselves creatively and having policies in place to maintain a comfortable experience for our global and culturally diverse community," an Instagram spokesperson said. "This is one reason why our guidelines put limitations on nudity, but we recognize that we don’t always get it right. In this case, we made a mistake and have since restored the account."

Instagram has been called out before for the other times it didn't "get it right" on racy photos, most often including images of women's nipples. Unlike Facebook, which updated its policy to remove breastfeeding images from its list of banned photos last year, Instagram has maintained a hardline on removing photos of nude breasts. Several celebrities, including Chelsea Handler and Scout Willis, have challenged the policy, yet Instagram continues to ban women's bodies -- even when it just means banning body hair. Body hair that, by the way, is considered appropriate enough to stay on Instagram when it belongs to a man, as Jessica Lewis -- a model who first discovered the Sticks and Stones photo -- pointed out to Mic.

"Why is it inappropriate for women to show natural REAL pubic hair in images when we have Justin Bieber having his photoshopped in for his most current Calvin Klein campaign with Lara Stone?" Lewis said. "If a male can be enhanced in post to look more masculine by way of pubic hair, why can't a woman feel accepted in society to be feminine in showing hers?"

By Jenny Kutner

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