Samm Newman knows what she is.
“I’m a big girl,” Newman said. “I’m proud, and I post lots of body love.”
Take a look for yourself. And I apologize in advance for embedding this photograph, but I want you to have the same reaction everyone else did on Instagram when this was first posted.
Part 1 – An OBESE Girl Posts On Instagram
Rather than rehash the facts, I’ll just let our trusted news sources do it:
Newman took part in a body positivity movement on Instagram. Four months ago, she met a group of ladies using hash tags like #bodylove and #pizzasister4lyfe. They followed each other, posted pictures and compliments.
“My Instagram, it was my safe place because when I was there, I could share anything,” Newman said.
“Body Positivity Movement” is code for obese people encouraging each other that, rather than attempting to do the hard thing and diet or exercise (or god forbid both), they will do what got them so obese in the first place. Sit around, be sedentary and yell at society through a computer. They do this because is the easy way out. After all why work at yourself when you can just seemingly validate your unhealthy and frankly grotesque lifestyle from the comfort of your couch?
Next, Newman discusses how she could post anything on Instagram because it was her “safe place.” Sounding like the teen that she is, and furthermore the America she lives in, Newman epitomizes the entitlement complex that we know all too well in America. Instagram is her safe place.
Part 2 – Instagram Removes Fat Photo For Violating Its Community Standards
Instagram removed the photograph and deleted this girl’s account. From the news stories I have read, they all quote the same reason from Instagram: the picture was removed for “violating community standards.” However I have yet to see a single direct quote from Instagram as to which community standard they are referring to.
Yet amazingly according to this source, this one, this lovely one, this major network, and this favorite, and probably countless others – Newman’s photo violated the Instagram nudity restrictions. This is despite as indicated above, the only words from Instagram itself do not specify such a thing.
So either these media outlets have some inside information from Instagram regarding which guideline it was and suspiciously enough refuse to disclose it, or more likely make an assumption as to which community standard was violated. I’ll go ahead and join the party now by making an assumption too, that it was the latter. As one source writes:
19-year-old Ohio student Samm Newman’s Instagram account was removed for violating the social media’s community guidelines against sharing photos with nudity. But Newman was clothed in a bra and boy shorts in her photo. “I didn’t find them or the bra at all inappropriate,” Newman told MS News Now. “They covered me entirely, and I’ve seen pictures like that all over Instagram.”
First, there is the aforementioned assumption regarding the guideline in question. With that out of the way we can focus on how so far removed from reality Newman actually is.
I actually agree with her first statement here. The bra and boy shorts are not the problem or inappropriate. Rather, it is her body. What most girls these days fail to understand in Western society is that people can be different. I would look like an idiot in cowboy boots and suspenders, but should I sport them anyway and walk out into society and demand people think I look good in them? If I shaved my head I most definitely would have an odd-shaped dome and it would not look good.
Yet in today’s reality that is America, everyone has the perceived right to be the same as everyone else. And that takes me to the second part of her statement. Putting aside the absurdity the part that the outfit covered her “entirely” is that she has seen “pictures like that all over Instagram.”
Again the self-delusion pushes through. In Newman’s mind, her obese self looks the same in a bikini as a model wearing a bikini. Pictures “like that” to Newman mean generally a girl in underwear. What she fails to realize is she cannot separate her morbid obesity from the outfit (perhaps literally given her fat folds overextending to trap the fabric).
A person does not see her picture and think to themselves “oh, what a lovely outfit.” A person sees this picture and thinks “this girl is disgustingly obese.”
Part 3 – The Media Cries Fat Discrimination And Instagram Cowers
Remember, Instagram was her place. So what happens when someone, dare say the owner of the medium, takes away that safe place?
The girl flips out and cries discrimination. Often times I wonder who really is at fault and to be honest, most of the time I can’t really blame girls like this. They have been brainwashed from an early age. Reality TV, exposure to stories like this, online “body positive movements,” friends who feed their spiral of unhealthy living to one another, or are just bitches who lie about how “cute” short hair looks on a girl, and so on. The list is neverending.
Take MyDaily’s account of the events at hand:
This latest news has us wondering who it is, sitting in their ivory tower, that gets to decide which pictures do and which pictures don’t violate their code of conduct. A picture of Cara Delevingne totally naked with just a road sign to cover her modesty isn’t nudity, but apparently Samm’s mirror shot is.
They then post this Instagram photo of the girl they mention:
This is followed by the requisite “wow, just wow” comment by the My Daily author Ellen Stewart, the variation being this time “The mind, it boggles.” Apparently Ms. Stewart also doesn’t understand that 1) no nudity was ever cited by Instagram, and 2) the difference between the picture immediately above and what Newman actually looks like.
Here’s another Instagram post of Newman (warning – click at your own risk). Does this help show the difference between her and the model above? How about Newman’s 44 likes to nearly 380k for the model? Even accounting for fame I’m pretty sure 380k people are not wrong in liking one over the other.
But according to Newmann and Stewart here, these pictures are all one in the same. I guess we couldn’t expect much more from an author with a bio that states she dresses like a teenage boy.
Eventually after getting heat from the media, Instagram succumbed and reinstated the photo and Newman’s account. Presumably to save face, Instagram made the following comment to some news sources:
When our team processes reports from other members of the Instagram community, we occasionally make a mistake. In this case, we wrongly removed content and worked to rectify the error as soon as we were notified. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Part 4 – Analysis: Did The Photograph Violate Instagram’s Community Guidelines?
If I were Instagram’s lawyer and we lived in a society that was not so twisted, I would have vehemently stood my ground. Instagram has a set of “Community Guidelines” it asks its users to follow (regarding both what to and what to not do). First, the provision that all the media outlets and Newman cited to as purportedly being violated was this one:
2. Do share photos and videos that are safe for people of all ages.
Remember that our community is a diverse one, and that your posts are visible to people as young as 13 years old. While we respect the artistic integrity of photos and videos, we have to keep our product and the content within it in line with our App Store’s rating for nudity and mature content. In other words, please do not post nudity or mature content of any kind.
Again, the nudity portion was simply assumed or perhaps used as a scapegoat. But let’s focus our attention on the first sentence for a second. Even if we accept the fact that there is a mythical barrier for girls under 13 to access the internet, then we still are left with girls in their early teens and older – arguably the most impressionable time of their lives – seeing photos like the one above and directly being told that these bodies, that this type of morbid obesity, is not only acceptable but promoted.
As I mentioned below, there is a litany of science and studies out there detailing the horrific effects of obesity. Personally I do not think this is safe for young impressionable eyes.
Verdict – Violation.
Instagram goes on to state:
3. Do treat others as you would like to be treated.
People from around the world with different backgrounds come together to share moments on Instagram, which is great, but it also means that not everyone will agree with what you think or believe. We ask that all users be polite and respectful in their interactions with other members.
Anyone who says Newman’s picture is something that should be shown to the public at large is either lying or brainwashed to the point of no recovery. Yet for those of us that have not lost our sanity and are not afraid to present the truth, Instagram allows us to complain if something is bothers us. For example, if we don’t agree with promoting morbid obesity. Exactly like how people did when they reported the Newman photo.
Of course, Newman doesn’t see it that way. She states that “fat is not a bad word” and “how confident can you be if you keep censoring yourself because people don’t want to look at you?” Again, completely self-centered as the only thing that matters in her world is herself.
Verdict – Violation (though admittedly not as clear cut as above).
Next up we have probably the most relevant guideline to the discussion at hand:
6. Don’t promote or glorify self-harm.
While Instagram is a place where people can share their lives with others through photographs and videos, any account found encouraging or urging users to embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders; or to cut, harm themselves, or commit suicide will result in a disabled account without warning. We believe that communication regarding these behaviors in order to create awareness, come together for support and to facilitate recovery is important, but that Instagram is not the place for active promotion or glorification of self-harm.
Emphasis added. May I ask Ellen Stewart or the countless other media writers how they missed this glaring provision in the Instagram guidelines? We can go on for hours and into excruciating detail as to how obesity is absolutely horrible for one’s health, or how overeating is an eating disorder. But we all know this already, whether we ignore it (media) or not (us).
So knowing this, how can one argue that placing such a photo of herself, promoting this terrible health and lifestyle, does not violate this provision? Simply put, they cannot. Such an argument would be completely without merit. Samm Newman was promoting and glorifying self-harm in the form of obesity.
It is hard to say if anyone at Instagram actually reconciled the photo with their actual guidelines and deleted the account, or was just so disgusted by the photo itself and deleted it as a reflexive action. Either way after getting hit by media for deleting Newman’s account, Instagram could have easily pointed to this guideline, pointed to the abundance of evidence supporting the harm obesity causes, and stood its ground.
Verdict – Clear Violation.
Part 5 – The End Result
But this is America, and Instagram at the risk of offending all these women backed down. Instead we got this nugget of joy:
“I’m going to make a difference in the world,” Newman said.
The sad truth is many before her already have. I mentioned that this weekend I saw a chubby ten year old girl walking around in a tight shirt that just said #SELFIE on it. She was with her older, equally chubby sister and her dad who obviously has failed to do anything about it.
In a few years she will be the next Samm Newman, posting her obese self on whatever the latest social media craze is that year. That company will be too afraid to do anything about it, and the cycle will continue.
This story is only a minor spec in the world that we are living in. Tactics like #fatshamingweek are really the only tools we have left these days and even those pale in comparison to the reach of Western media. But at least we are trying.
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