In The News – Instagram User Claims Size Discrimination
Chillicothe, OH—After 19-year-old Sam Newman posted “body love” selfies on Instagram, her account was disabled—because of her size, she claimed. The social media site later apologized, saying it made a mistake, and reinstated her account.
Newman, a former bullying victim who engaged in self-harm, said online support has helped her learn to love her body. But when the size-24 college student posted a photo of herself in a bra and boy shorts, Instagram drew the line.
Newman accused the site of fat-shaming and having double standards. Celebrities frequently post risqué photos on Instagram without any consequences, she noted.
“Fat is not a bad word,” Newman said. “How confident can you be if you keep censoring yourself because people don’t want to look at you?”
Instagram was Newman’s safe place, she said. “When I was there, I could share anything.” She added, “I’m going to make a difference in the world, regardless of whether Instagram cooperates or not.”
Angered by the actions of Instagram (which is owned by Facebook), Rebecca Rose wrote, “If companies like Facebook can manage to come up with software that knows to spam you with ads for baby clothes right at the time you ‘liked’ your old roommate’s post announcing she was pregnant, they…should be able to come up with a system that doesn’t arbitrarily discriminate on who gets deleted and who stays.”
A variety of social media campaigns are aimed at helping young people—especially girls—boost their self-image. For example, online posts encourage people to post makeup-free and filter-free selfies.
These photos can lead to body acceptance because we become “more accustomed…to seeing authentic women in a bona fide way,” writes columnist Laura Argintar. She adds, “It’s comforting and refreshing to see so many gorgeous, amazing women flaunting their bodies, their selfies, for the rest of us to praise on social media. It’s not wrong to be proud of yourself and your shape; it’s wrong not to accept it.”
Sources: huffingtonpost.com, nbc4i.com, elitedaily.com, jezebel.com, nytimes.com
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Discussion Questions for Student Small Groups
Why do you think Instagram removed Newman’s account? Do you think it was an innocent mistake or a form of discrimination? Explain.
What’s your reaction to the “body-love” movement? How successful do you think it will be at counteracting media messages about beauty and thinness?
How do you think social media sites have affected your perceptions of beauty? your perceptions of your own body? When you post selfies, what “look” are you usually going for, and why? How does the feedback you receive about these photos affect your feelings or your self-esteem?
Do you admire people who post candid shots of their bodies, or do you think those pictures should be kept private? Explain. How might such selfies be empowering? How might they backfire?
If you’re a girl, would you be comfortable posting a makeup-free selfie? If you’re a boy, do you encourage “natural beauty” among your female friends? Explain.
What are some types of body-shaming that occur in our society? When have you felt most ashamed of your body? most proud of your body? Do you agree that it’s okay to feel proud of your body? Why or why not?
When have you felt discriminated against because of your appearance? What was that like, and what did you do about it?
If you could change one thing about your body, what would it be, and why? What does it take to be at peace with your physical appearance?
How does it affect your self-esteem to hear that God created your body? that he dwells in your body? What day-to-day implications might there be to remembering that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?
Scripture links: Genesis 1:26-27; 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 139:13-16; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; and 1 Peter 3:3-4.