Ted Baker KSA


When fashion and nudity are so intertwined, can the social site maintain its stringent rules?


In 1964, the Supreme Court ruled that pornography can be determined subjectively—or, as the ruling justice said, “I know it when I see it.” Instagram isn’t so gray on the matter—instead the social media site has a sweeping “do not post nudity or mature content of any kind” clause, which consistently gets fashion photographers, models and even Rihanna into hot water with the Insta-police, i.e. remove the post or have your account blocked or removed immediately.

Rihanna Magazine Cover for Lui Magazine

Rihanna’s most recent trouble came from posting her topless cover from “Lui” magazine. One or more of Rihanna’s 12 million followers must have reported the image, because she was soon asked to delete it. Rihanna, of course, didn’t go down quietly, removing said post but replacing it with humorously conservative photos and calling out the social media site. Would it do Instagram any good to have Rihanna cease posting to her millions of followers? Or is there something refreshing about Instagram’s democratic approach? You, me, and Riri are all the same in their multi-filtered eyes.

Earlier this year, model Anja Rubik was kicked off the social media site after posting a few partially-nude photos on the account of her newly launched magazine, “25,” including runway images of her in a sheer Anthony Vaccarello look. She has since rejoined, but also created T-shirts that read, “Don’t Fear the Nipple,” in protest. But Instagram does fear the nipple, even when it’s photographed by Helmut Newton or walking down a couture runway. It also fears the butt—Candice Swanepoel had a fashion image that included her naked behind reported, which she later removed, but not without openly complaining to her nearly 3 million followers first.

Nudity and fashion photography are inherently intertwined (regardless of the irony that goes along with that statement), as are art and nudity: Richard Prince was also kicked off of Instagram and has since rejoined, but is pushing the envelope daily with his artful yet decidedly unclothed imagery.

Instagram is slowly welcoming advertising to introduce a revenue stream that the popular site has been lacking, with brands like Burberry, Michael Kors and Levi’s already on board to post paid-for content. What if Instagram finds a fashion ad against its stringent rules? Or as research house Forrester recently found, although Instagram currently has best in class engagement, “…it won’t last. Marketers must use Instagram now, before it changes the rules—and they must be ready to move on to another social site when Instagram’s phenomenal engagement rates disappear.” Careful, Instagram—you may be tops now, but remember MySpace? Fashion may take its nipples elsewhere.

Update: Rihanna is no longer on Instagram. Could these stringent rules be to blame? Is her creative freedom being hampered? Or did she simply become bored of square photography and flattering filters?

Update (May 7, 2014): It is being reported that Rihanna did not delete her own account, instead Instagram’s “computers” accidentally did. The social site released a comment saying, “This account was mistakenly caught in one of our automated systems and very briefly disabled. We apologize for any inconvenience.” So far, Rihanna has not re-joined of her own volition. Alison Schumer of Instagram, told the Daily Mail, “Yesterday, we briefly disabled the account by mistake and restored it quickly. I can confirm that we have not deleted the account subsequently.” Rihannagram-gate continues.


By Kerry Pieri on Harper’s Bazaar
@rihanna on Twitter