Instagram has been in the news recently after it reportedly began to remove likes from a couple of Maltese accounts, but for young Maltese photographer Beppe Vella, it wasn’t his likes removed. It was his content.
Vella’s photos are known to push boundaries, but he was still left scratching his head when an edited photo showing a nude model wearing only a balaclava was removed within 12 hours of posting.
The photo was part of a collection that challenges the ideals of self expression and its selfish necessity.
“If someone feels comfortable dressing up that way, and you don’t like it, simply look away”
“10 hours after I posted the photo, it was still up,” Vella told Lovin Malta of the black-and-white photo. “Within 12 hours, it was gone.”
Vella went on to say that, while he did file a claim against what he felt was an unjust censoring of his post, he hasn’t heard anything back yet.
“It was either looked over, or it could be because I reposted the image with a different form of censorship. I had to get the message across.”
After realising that his image was taken down, Vella reuploaded the photo – this time with a long black bar censoring the model’s lower body – and a caption explaining what had just happened.
“The fact it got removed only proves a point with regards to self expression,” Vella wrote. “We are becoming too easily offended with matters that have no relevance to us. We need to be aware of what’s around us, but if we have no business in the matter, we need to move on.”
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Instagram has removed this image previously. I used different means of censorship this time. Hopefully it will stay on my page. The fact it got removed only proves a point with regards to self expression. We are becoming too easily offended with matters that have no relevance to us. We need to be aware of what’s around us , but if we have no business in the matter we need to move on.
Vella’s work doesn’t tend to shy away from the explicitly soft, but as far as Instagram’s policy on nudity goes, he didn’t really do anything wrong.
According to Instagram, genitalia is not allowed to be shown, but nude imagery of an artistic nature is allowed.
Take a look at the image that was removed again. The nudity is implied, but not shown.
The question here is: where does a woman’s vagina definitively start and end?
In biology, we are taught that women have internal sex organs and men have external, which is a pretty fucking obvious point to make. I’m not saying that we should let all the ladies run through fields of wheat like Theresa May in Calendar Girls, but really and truly, where does the line of “that’s an unacceptable of a woman’s body” begin and end?
Instagram’s policies on nudity do state that female nipples are not allowed to be visible, and when flagged through reports, the images are investigated. However, Vella has had images showing female nudity on his page already, and the images were censored accordingly.
As we mentioned before, Vella’s work does sit on the fence when it comes to what many could deem explicit, but the images currently available on his page are already on a similar line to the one that was taken down.
“Self-expression, although selfish in nature, is vital,” Vella went on. “Without it, we would have no identity.”
“We might not go after what we really want to do because we might be looked down upon in the public eye,” the young photographer concluded.
In the meantime, the newly-updated (and more heavily censored) version of the original image appears to have remained up on the platform… but what does that say of Instagram’s threshold for censorship both on nudity in general and the female body?