Instagram Removed Her Photo Because She's Not Skinny. Here's The Video That Got Them To Apologize.

Meghan Tonjes is a singer/songwriter, YouTube star, and body-positive vlogger. She's basically my hero. And after you listen to her rant at Instagram for removing one of her photos from their site for being "offensive," she'll be your hero too.

If you're short on time, jump to 3:27 for the really good stuff.

The good news is that Instagram totally apologized and reversed their decision. You can see the pic live on the site here, and if you're feeling brave, share your own booty pic with the hashtag #bootyrevolution. Yay!

If you liked what Meghan had to say and would like to hear more, you can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Tumblr. No pressure though.

Transcript:
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Meghan Tonjes: Hey guys. It's Meghan Tonjes, and you're watching "Frequently Asked Tonjes." In the past, I've used these to talk about my opinions about YouTube, and Internet stuff, and just things going on in the world that I have a very strong opinion about. We're going to continue that. We're also going to start releasing these on Sundays. We're going to go to church, here, #churchoftonjes.

Oh, God.

So before I even start this video, let me say I am very appreciative of free online social media sites and platforms - YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all these places that I love to go - because I come from a past of, when I was younger and I wanted to share things that I was doing and be creative, I had to buy bandwidth and storage space, and write and code my own websites. And it sucked. It was expensive, and it sucked. So I'm so thankful. I don't complain often about little things, but sometimes when things happen that aren't so little, I have to say something.

Basically Instagram, we have to talk. So, if any of you follow me on Instagram, you know that I post a variety of things, including my puppy, and food, and pictures of my butt. I have no shame. I've posted photos along my weight loss and transformation of me in gym clothes, in underwear, just photos of parts of my body that I'm just super happy with, and I'm super proud of, and I have embraced getting older. I have pride for my curves. My still very fat body, I like a lot.

So, about a year ago, I posted a photo of me actually out by a friend's pool, tanning, and I was wearing a sports bra and underwear, completely covered. And the accents on my Tumblr got taken off because they said that I was posting pornographic material: completely covered but fat, therefore, pornographic.

Recently, I had a photo that was flagged and taken down on Instagram. This is the photo. I'm sure I'll get a million comments saying, "Yay," and a million comments saying, "Oh, why would you do that? I'm so disappointed." I like my butt.

So, when Instagram removes a photo, you get an email saying, basically, "Your photo was taken down because it was flagged. It was deemed inappropriate in consideration with the community guidelines." These community guidelines include posting photos that aren't yours, harassing individuals or groups, sharing photos of illegal content, sharing photos of violence, and photos that contain nudity and mature content.

Totally understandable, but Instagram, I'm going to need you to define nudity and mature content for me. Now, nudity is defined as "Having no clothing. Permitting or featuring full exposure of the body." Now, when someone is in their underwear or in a bathing suit, we don't call that nudity. If we did, every beach would be a nude beach. Generally, nudity involves your genitals being exposed, which is not the case when you're completely covered.

I might be getting ahead of you here. I'll slow down a little bit.

Now, mature content is a little more vague in its definition, because we live in a society where we call "mature content" things that we're uncomfortable with. That's why people have an issue with women and breast-feeding in public, because we are taught that breasts are inherently sexual, that a body that is exposed is inherently sexual.

And this relationship that we have with our bodies and sexuality is, in part, why things like rape culture exist, why you hear people say, "Well, she was dressed like a slut, so she was kind of asking for it." We assume that if our reaction to a body is sexual, that the person who owns that body had the intention of creating those sexual feelings.

Let me tell you personally why I find it annoying that all of these photos are on your site and don't get taken down, and this photo does. I want you to think of how many big girls you see on the Internet, on television, in magazines, wearing bathing suits, lingerie, shorts, dresses, tight-fitting clothing who aren't openly mocked, who aren't torn apart as being disgusting, who aren't made to believe that when they wear the exact same clothing as people with thinner bodies in the same social situations, that they are disgusting and should hide themselves. And now you have the answer as to why a lot of girls who look like me - and by "a lot" I mean not very many - post pictures of themselves showing their thighs, or their stomach, or parts that other women and other people show proudly and are never questioned on, because that's what we're used to seeing, and we're comfortable with that.

You have the opportunity to be a platform where people can engage in a very body-positive community, can openly share their lives, including their bodies, in a very appropriate and positive way, falling all within your community guidelines. And I don't give a (bleep) about how comfortable people are seeing that. Being uncomfortable is different from viewing nudity or pornography. I would hope that it's a goal of yours as a platform to make sure that close-minded, ignorant, and hateful people don't abuse your report feature, which is awful.

I will say that there is an "I don't like this photo" selection. You go to report a photo, and when you click on that, Instagram basically takes you to a page and says, "Get over it. Unfollow or block this person for posting a picture that you personally are uncomfortable with." That's pretty solid (bleep) advice. Now, I don't blame Instagram for the fact that there are people in this world who just feel like, "Because I'm uncomfortable with something, everyone should be uncomfortable with something."

But I do have to say, Instagram, you have no customer service. It's frustrating that there's not an email, there's not a phone number, there's no button I can click to be, like, "I want to repeal this, and I want to actually have a human being look at this and line this up with the community guidelines, and either give me a yea or nay."

Basically, this lack of a real system means that anyone could send their friends over to any account, flag a bunch of photos, and have an account completely taken down for really no reason, because no one's overseeing this process. That sucks, as someone who uses a site, and stores their life on the site, and is excited to promote this app, is that there's really no safety. There's no one watching out for the people using the actual app who are doing so on good faith and following your community guidelines.

Daddy Instagram either needs to come in and say, "OK. Anything that causes impure thoughts, anything above the knee, any picture of a model, a Fitspiration site, Playboy's Instagram, anything where someone's on a beach and not wearing a snowsuit, these are all inappropriate and don't go with our community guidelines." And then take all of those photos down, or they need to start protecting the people who use their sites: of all sizes, of all bodies. I don't like double standards. I don't like when a site doesn't take direct action to define its own rules, and to enforce those rules fairly. I don't like it.

And finally, Instagram, you say that you shouldn't upload a video or a photo if it's something that you wouldn't show a child, your boss, or your parents. And to that, I say, "Hi, Mom." I will literally send pictures of my butt that I put on the Internet to my mom, beforehand in a text message, and get her approval before I put them online, because not every mom body shames. And if I had a child, I wouldn't raise them to hate their body and to hate the bodies of others. And I wouldn't work for someone who wants to body shame and thinks that I shouldn't be allowed to be on the beach in a bikini, or to wear underwear, or to follow community guidelines.

Oh, I'm sorry. Did I make you uncomfortable with my body? It's not an apology. I don't really care, though.

So, what do you guys think? Do you think that this is a problem, that this is something that Instagram should fix? And if so, how do you think they should fix the system? I think it's pretty flawed, but I'm sure many of you disagree with me.

I love you guys all very much. Every Sunday, there will be "Frequently asked Tonjes," where I will talk about important life stuff, and tell you my unfortunate opinions about them. Also, somewhere in this video there is a secret annotation to a channel that I'm starting. It's going to be awesome. You know what I'm saying? It's going to be awesome. That's not the name of the channel, but it's going to be awesome. And there's going to be a lot more body-positive stuff on there, and maybe I'll show you hair, and makeup, and clothes. Mm. Need more plus-size bitches in the beauty world. Yeah.

OK. I love you, and I'll see you all soon. Bye.

There may be small errors in this transcript.
About:

Video by Meghan Tonjes. Tweeted at Upworthy and hijacked by yours truly to create this post. You might remember Meghan as the star of another video that I featured in one of my earliest Upworthy posts where she took down some Internet trolls who thought calling her fat was a super clever insult (spoiler alert: It isn't).

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Published:
May 28, 2014

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