Instagram Explains Why They Banned Nipples

October 2nd 2015

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has finally come forward about the #FreeTheNipple controversy. Many celebrate the #FreetheNipple movement, in response to Instagram's double standard against female nipples. At a recent event hosted by Dazed Media, Systrom said Apple has strict rules for apps, and that violating any of these guidelines could result in Apple doing away with the Instagram app.

Instagram is currently listed as for ages 12 and above, and Apple only allows explicit nudity in apps if the app is for users that are 17 and older. In a nutshell, Systrom is trying to keep his app around.

While he insisted Instagram is "committed to artistic freedom," he also admitted that "in order to scale effectively there are [some] tough calls." He also said there are plenty of other places on the Internet to find female nipples if that's what you're looking for.

However, the #FreetheNipple movement didn't start so people could merely promote nudity on Instagram. Over the past year and a half, many women have challenged Instagram's nipple policy to point out the sexism of removing photos that expose female nipples but not removing photos showing male nipples.


In addition to regular Instagram users, many celebrities have come forward to fight the social media platform's treatment of female nipples. In spring 2014, Bruce Willis' daughter Scout took to Twitter to share topless photos of herself in Manhattan to show that it's legal to bear one's breasts in New York City yet a problem on Instagram:

Actress/model Cara Delevingne also supported #FreetheNipple in a tweet last year:

Model Chrissy Teigen has long been a vocal #FreetheNipple advocate. This year, Instagram removed one of her topless W magazine photoshoot images, and she responded by posting this photo that hides the sight of her nipple but still reveals much of her breast:

Teigen recently told Mashable that she doesn't choose to post photos like this to start drama, but to show that pictures of topless women shouldn't be viewed as controversial in the first place.

"The fact that I have to censor myself from my photo at all when there are full-on porn being shot across Twitter and Instagram every day is crazy," Teigen said to Mashable. "But women are beautiful and if it's a beautiful photo that isn't vulgar, then who cares?"

Another female public figure who knows a lot about nipple censorship is Miley Cyrus. Towards the end of last year, she posted a topless photo of herself with the caption, "Some lame a** deff gonna (flag) dat (s***) but f********k it #practicewhatchupreach #FreeTheNipple #freedats***." As she anticipated, Instagram deleted the photo.

Cyrus got around the rule by posting a more subtle picture of her nipple on Instagram a few months later:

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