Has Instagram Freed The Nipple?

Their actions this week suggest a strong maybe.

March 03, 2015

After initially yanking it down, Instagram has not only reinstated but also apparently apologized for censoring artist Tara McPherson's painting, "An Interruption of Blood," which features heavily stylized cartoon nipples. The painting, which will be included in Juxtapoz Magazine's 20th Exhibition in Los Angeles tonight, has since been allowed to be reposted not just by McPherson but by ANIMAL. In the comments of their post, ANIMAL writes, "@instagram apologized for removing this image by @taramcpherson, says painted boobs are OK." While there's no screenshot of the actual apology, the painting's reposting suggests Instagram did indeed reneg on their stringent nudity policies.

Last year, I interviewed a number of artists and activists who found themselves constantly sparring with Instagram's notoriously ambiguous but ruthlessly enforced "Community Guidelines." At the time I wrote, "Male nipples, the thong-clad asses that populate Dan Bilzerian's feed, and posts of Kim Kardashian's PAPER cover are allowed to stay, while female nipples, bare asses that don't belong to Kim Kardashian, and even a Blue Period Picasso risk tripping the censors." The creatives I spoke to recalled everything from a stick figure to a Tom Wesselmann painting being pulled down—all because they featured an interpretation of the female nipple. If it's to be widely implemented, Instagram's newer, more lenient stance on female nudity could completely reconfigure their relationship with artists.

Meanwhile, Jerry Saltz.

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Has Instagram Freed The Nipple?