Why Instagram Banned Curvy As a Search Term

Who knew that the hashtag #curvy could be more damaging than the word “fatf*ck?”  Apparently, to Instagram the hashtag is too much for them to handle and they’ve banished it from the site.

In July the popular social media platform made a statement issued to Buzzfeed explaining that the hashtag is no longer searchable because it violates the company’s community guidelines around nudity.  Instagram claims that porn companies are using the hashtag and this is not something they want affiliated with their brand.  Okay…I can understand that.  But here is where I need some clarification – if Instagram doesn’t want porn on their site, why do they have hashtags such as #d*ckpics and #clitoris populating their pages?  The word “curvy” refers to shape.  The word “d*ckpic” refers to the naked penis.  Hmm…

When it comes to taking a stance on censorship, Instagram does poorly.  The platform has also banned hashtags #butt, #thigh, and #nipple, while allowing search terms such as #skinny and #dildo to exist.  There doesn’t seem to be much consistency and unfortunately it’s influencing us to think the worst – curvaceous women and their allies are offended.

The term “curvy” has been used again and again to promote self-love and body acceptance.  Instagram has the opportunity to bridge people together and form communities based off of these principles.  Instead, women are feeling like their bodies are being policed and not welcomed in that space.  It doesn’t help that the hashtags #fat and #obese still remain – words generally associated with negative meaning.

What is something to note is that elimination of the hashtag #curvy has not stopped users from searching a term that will convey the same meaning.  For users looking for body-positive photos and communities, they have given popularity to new search terms such as #curvygirl for example.  For the nasty individuals we can’t seem to get away from on social media, they resort to using new hashtags designed to be insulting and undermine the work being done to lift up the confidence of many men and women who don’t fit the mold of mainstream beauty.  Instagram is forcing us to see non-thin bodies in one way – unacceptable and unattractive – and that’s not okay.