Instagram Censorship

I’ve been a pretty big fan of Instagram (IG) since I joined a year ago. Instagram is a great way to connect with people of common interests, and tell a story about your life without words. Most of my photos are centered around fun dining experiences, cooking adventures, and new fashion trends I find appealing. People can tag photos with different hash tags so that others may find them. A girl who is on her way to a 5am jog may tag a photo of the park with #goodmorning, #fitness, or #jogging.

The other day I posted a photo of a simple breakfast of a crumpet, sliced apples, and peanut butter. It was not until later that I noticed my #peanutbutter hash tag was blocked! Words that are lewd or hateful are understandably blocked, but peanut butter? This lead me to search the web and find out more about censorship on Instagram. Though I never solved the peanut butter mystery, I came across an article that mentioned other censored hash tags which include terms like: #thinspo and #thinspiration. As you may guess, these photos have everything to do with getting not fit, but thin. IG has made an effort to show they do not support anything related to self harm.

Many have speculated that women such as Alexa Chung and Kate Moss being portrayed as symbols of beauty are to blame. Popular shows like 90210 were even criticized since nearly all of the female cast members were very thin. There was great concern over the question: if teens see these women and believe they are beautiful, will they also think they need to be that thin?

Kate Moss
Alexa Chung

While companies like Dove have campaigns that celebrate a woman’s inner beauty, it seems there are so many other influences expressing the opposite sentiment. This is sad to see. There are many people on IG promoting fitness, mental health, and eating to fight diseases.I find these so inspiring and it is almost every day that I find out about a new recipe or exercise move. There is still a lot of positivity, however the negative terms that I mentioned are definitely cause for concern, since self harm is never okay.

Although certain terms are blocked and others like “anorexia” automatically call up a viewer advisory and provide a website for getting help for an eating disorder, the rail-thin photos continue to be posted. I’ve even seen some with captions like “Hang in there, it will all be worth it in the end!” And this is from young women who have publicly posted their current weight at 102 pounds. Censoring is a great way to show that we do not support these behaviors, but IG can continue to block and censor all they want–it has already snowballed. New hash tags are cropping up like #ednos which stands for “eating disorder not otherwise specified”. I don’t think the problem is the tags, or even the photos. Those are just outward symptoms of something much deeper and troubling. It is a cry for help.

When you ask most women if they would change anything about their body, there is almost always some area they want to slim down. We aren’t easily satisfied. We compare ourselves to others, and it only increases our anxiety. The numbers for eating disorders in men are also increasing. We must find a way to teach people that their differences are to be celebrated. Being obese is not good, but that it’s okay not to be a size 2.

What is our happy medium when people easily obsess?

If you, or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder, please seek help.Visit the National Institute of Mental Health to read more information on this subect.

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