On May 21, Singapore-based fashion blogger Aarti Olivia Dubey posted a photo of herself and two other women (Rani Dhaschainey and Ratna Devi Manokaran) in bikinis to Instagram. The next day, the post was removed for "violating community standards." Weird, right? Instagram has lots of photos of women in bikinis—oh wait, could it be because the women in this picture had the audacity to not be thin?
The offending picture was from a photoshoot the ladies had done for a Singaporean magazine article on bikinis and plus-sized people. Dubey took to her blog's Facebook account, Curves Become Her, where she shared the picture and explained what had happened/expressed her outrage.
The full text reads:
instagram: THIS is the image that was reported by fat shamers and trolls, and YOU deleted it.
HOW is this image being hateful, hurtful, abusive, trolling or obscene? Do 3 fat girls in swimsuits equate to gore, porn, racism, sexism? Or is it that people only want to see slim girls in swimsuits?
IF this image is reported and deleted again, please trust that I WILL pursue this matter just like @rupikaur_ did when her image of lying in a period stain was removed.
I am so disappointed and beyond livid right now. No Thanks to you and the people who had the gall to report this image, for making me feel so badly this Monday morning about my existence as a brown fat woman.
My dear friends on social media, if you would like to help, please do so by reposting this image and sharing this post all over social media platforms, as many as you like.
In an email exchange with Fusion, Dubey wrote: "The image clearly did not violate the guidelines, we were simply three plus sized women happy after a photoshoot in our bikinis. Obviously Fatphobic trolls had reported the image and Instagram blindly removed it. Which really angered me."
She told Revelist, "At first I was confused and really stunned. But going by how mean some of the comments were in earlier posts, it turned to anger. And I remembered this happening to another plus-size friend last year and that just made me livid."
Fusion reached out to Instagram for a comment on their removal of Dubey's picture. Coincidentally enough, Instagram suddenly emailed Dubey to say that they'd made a mistake. A week later. They put her photo back up, and told Fusion that they'd apologized to Dubey and had "already taken steps to prevent this from happening in the future." It's unclear what exactly those steps are, other than maybe not automatically pulling down pictures of people just because fatphobic trolls flag them.
This has not the first time a picture of a fat person in a swimsuit has been pulled from social media (surprise!). Recently, Facebook, which owns Instagram, refused to run an ad with plus-sized model Tess Holliday in a bikini—they claimed that it violated their ad policy ("Ads may not depict a state of health or body weight as being perfect or extremely undesirable"). So yes, Facebook basically told Tess Holliday that her life and her look are both "undesirable."
Hey, social media, guess what: a lot of people do find it desirable, and you know what? Don't be so damn judgmental. Can people LIVE?