LA-based stylist and makeup artist Stacey Nishimoto, who you might remember from this or this, had one of our favorite Instagram accounts, until, one day, it disappeared on account of a nude photo. Like many of us, she hadn't taken the time to read the rules—hey, us, too. (In August, a photo of a sheer-shirted Jane Birkin was deleted and our account was flagged.) All of which got her thinking: is Instagram wrong to draw the line at visible areola or nether-regions, but let slide ostensibly law-abiding—covered-up—but often more sexually charged images, à la Maxim magazine? And if she did break the rules, didn't she at least deserve a warning?
Let’s rewind back to last fall: it’s New York Fashion Week and my best friend Sophia is sharing the back seat of a cab with me. She suggests I get an Instagram account. You over-post images on Facebook!, she rightly observes, You'll love Instagram! I protest: Eh, I don't know. FB is enough. (I’m an old lady). Sophia takes my phone and downloads it for me.
It was love at first post. I amassed many followers (over 3,000) and made amazing new friends and important contacts. Instagram allowed me to share my little world—my baby boy, Gussie, what I do at work, and what I love. But it was a joy that was taken from me in a fleeting moment of sharing an image in hopes of inspiring others.
As a stylist and makeup artist, bombarding my brain with a crazy amount of visuals is part of the job; I’m a junkie for inspiration and try to keep a cache of razor-fresh ideas at the ready. Understandably, I get extremely excited when I come across an image that totally releases the floodgates. I have to share it, like, immediately. I LOVE to share, perhaps too willingly.
So, one afternoon while hunting for muses online I happened upon a photo of Mariacarla Boscono  that made me go cross-eyed with delight: her alabaster cheekbones, her lady-boy body standing proud and shamelessly against a pillar. She’s clutching a black evening dress that has fallen to her thighs. I don't have to wear a gown to be elegant—I am elegant, she seems to say. The picture swept me off my feet. So, of course, I posted it.
The image blew up with likes. I know, right? Properly pleased with my post, I poured over more images of Mariacarla and sipped away at an iced espresso. After a while, I picked up my phone to see how many likes the image had amassed—true confessions of an addict—and noticed the photo wouldn't refresh. Dumbfounded, I tried to reload again, blaming bad reception. The pic wasn't in my stream but was still posted on my account. Assuming there was an error, I reposted. The likes started streaming in again. Content, I helped myself to a Nutella beignet. Again, I looked at my phone and...it was gone. All of it. Everything. No Instagram. In a hot daze, I dropped the beignet and tried to log on repeatedly. A message appeared: YOUR ACCOUNT HAS BEEN DISABLED.
Wait, WHAT??? All of those followers, friends, new friends, contacts, idols! Gone! And over a nude that was more Botticelli than Playboy? My heart dropped. I'M A MOM FOR GOODNESS SAKE! 80% of my photos are of my dumpling son and the rest are of fashion, beauty, friends, and frickin’ selfies! Wow. I felt like crying or killing someone.
Did it matter that my Instagram was private? That I posted a beautiful photo by Juergen Teller? No. I guess not.
When I pulled myself out of my murderous state, I started to do some research. I went to Instagram’s website and read the rules and guidelines.
1. You may not post violent, nude, partially nude, discriminating, unlawful, hateful, pornographic, or sexually suggestive photos or other content via the Service.
Why is "nude" in the same vein as hateful, violent, discriminating, unlawful, and sexually suggestive? What if it’s a fashion nude? A classic painting of a nude? What if it’s art, and where do you draw the line? I was drowning in questions.
I have seen Instagrams of girls that are fully clothed but sexually suggestive as all get out. Even partially clothed! I've seen selfies from women AND men that make my Mariacarla look like Bo Peep and their accounts are up and running, trailed by the thousands. I actually felt hurt.
I wrote to Instagram: "I'm a mom, I'm this, I'm that...I'm tasteful, blah blah. Please give me my friends back!!" My pleading was answered with an auto-reply stating that they had received my email and they would investigate, and that I’d probably never hear back from them, regardless. Awesome.
I wondered if anyone else had experienced such dread. Well, Madonna did. After one week of Insta, Madonna had 170,000 followers. She received a warning (at least she got a warning) to stop posting images of her cleavage and her hot 54-year-old butt hanging out of tiny shorts. She also posted images of Frida Khalo's paintings, which she collects, that could have gotten the Instagram narcs on her perfectly-sculpted derrière: "Don't share photos that aren't yours" is another Basic Term.
I started a new Insta. It feels strange, like I'm the new girl in school and have to start making new friends all over again. Needless to say, you won’t be seeing any nudes this time around...well, maybe of Gussie's little ham butt.
All images from Stacey Nishimoto's disabled Instagram account.