Women’s autonomy: The censorship of women’s bodies on social media platforms

The silencing of women who challenge the status quo.

The attempt to control women is deeply rooted in our society and can be traced back centuries. From the demand of women to look a particular way and fit into certain categories, having to look modest and act ladylike to not showing their true selves in fear of having an immodest label placed upon them. 

This was how the world for women was for decades, however, in recent years women have been able to break out of these molds to gain more autonomy, but we still have limitations on the things that society says we ought to do. Despite the progress we have made in the 21st century things are not perfect, and the way that women exist in society is still not fully up to them. Women are finding bold new ways to continue to challenge these narrow ideas of womanhood.

In today’s world, women have the ability to show their true selves all over social media whether it be posting pictures of themselves with uplifting captions or expressing not only the challenges they have faced but how they have overcome those challenges as well. But, do we really have the sort of freedom that we think we do?

The social media platforms women are using ultimately allow them to pick and choose which posts are appropriate based on their interpretation of “community guidelines.” Certain pages have had a number of posts removed. One trend among these overly censored pages is in regards to women’s appearance. Often, the women who face the most censoring are bigger and not what the media typically promotes as “healthy weight.” One social media platform where this happens repeatedly is Instagram.

Chelsie Lynn, a known comedian through her YouTube channel, Vine, TikTok and Snapchat videos, is a woman who is bigger. She embraces this fact through her work by making positive jokes in her skits while also openly talking about her feelings toward her size and how it does not bug her. Some of the things that she posts can be raunchy, but it goes along with her characters. It is also who she is as a person, she doesn’t care what others think.

Over the summer fans started to notice that posts of hers have started to disappear on Instagram, one of them being a photo of her in a pool donning shorts and a flesh-colored bikini top that almost made it look like she was not wearing a top at first glance, but in taking a second look at the image you could easily tell that she was. The post was removed due to “indecency” even though it was very obvious that it was a joke, and she was in fact not shirtless. But even with the picture being deemed “indecent” fans of hers would reach out telling Lynn about how these posts boost their own self image.

In other pictures from her Instagram she was shirtless but covered her nipples with stickers, a common practice allowing women to show their breasts without technically being in violation. Yet, these images were also being removed due to “indecency.” 

One day over the summer Lynn made an Instagram story showing the pictures from her posts that were being removed. She then showed other women’s posts still on their profiles that depicted things much more risque. For example, they were making videos showing their genitalia or posing in sexual poses with no clothing. 

The glaring difference between Lynn and these other girls? She was not as thin as they were. It was almost as if Instagram was telling her if she was thinner, then her post would still be up.

After seeing this it made me wonder how many other women and girls’ posts were being removed for “indecency” when in reality it is because a big girl is showing too much skin for society’s comfort. Think of all the girls whose posts are being removed and what that is doing to their self-esteem when the whole purpose of their initial post was likely a way to bring positivity and normalize different body types. 

We would think that in the 21st century this type of thing would not be an issue yet it still is, even for someone with verified social media accounts is being minimized because she is not the kind of woman that society values 

Even though everyone is supposed to be accepting of all different body types through what the media tells us, this is obviously not true. This is not something that should be happening and this type of thinking is going to make girls of this generation continue to think poorly of themselves just like the generations before them due to society’s refusal to change. Even today women still have this pressure of looking the way that society wants us to, and we are slowly but steadily fighting back.