As of recent many plus size influencers on Instagram have noticed that the amount of likes they receive on their posts has vastly decreased. This phenomenon is known as shadow banning. Shadow banning is when a user becomes essentially invisible except to the people that already follow them, and even then some users have reported that even if they are following someone, they may not see their posts. An account that has been shadow banned will also not show up in the hashtag search or on the explore page. This greatly affects the engagement on influencer’s posts and the number of people who see the posts. Shadow banning is believed to have impacted mainly plus size influencers who openly share body positive pictures of themselves.
For many influencers, their Instagram accounts are their full-time jobs and are a way to express themselves and be unapologetic about their bodies. This has not been the first Instagram has been fatphobic and censored plus size people. In 2015, the hashtag #curvy was banned because it violated the terms of service by being used for porn. Instead of just banning these accounts that actually violated Instagram’s terms of service, the ban of #curvy affected many plus size influencers negatively. Though banning the hashtag #curvy, Instagram did not ban #skinny, #fat or #thin. This further proves that curvy bodies are always automatically sexualized, no matter then context.
Now, Instagram is banning plus size women once again for being unapologetic in showing off their bodies in lingerie and bikinis. These women are breaking stereotypes around plus size people, and showing that they can be beautiful and sexy no matter what their size is. Skinny women are posting the same kind of sensual pictures as plus size women, but are not being reprimanded for it because they are thin and acceptable in the eyes of society.
Many plus size influencers are speaking up on the issue of shadow banning, model and influencer Carine Shero has even started a petition to stop the censorship of plus-size people. This petition has already racked up thousands of signatures.
Also, influencer and body positive activist Georgina Horne has recently stated on a post:
“I’ve defo been shadow banned on instagram – I can tell because my posts never make ‘top posts’ on hashtags with few posts, and my likes have vastly depleted. If I were a slim woman posting similar content then this wouldn’t happen. Fat bodies are being muted, and I’m not ok with that. I post content that I know for a FACT empowers and emboldens others, and yet because my body isn’t ‘perfect’, I’m given a disadvantage.”
Though Instagram has been doing shadow banning silently, it has not stopped many from noticing and speaking up on it. Instagram has yet to comment, but hopefully they will change their fatphobic policies and allow plus size women to freely and openly express their bodies, like privileged thin women have always been able to do.
Photo: Eye for Ebony