On Monday, Woodlands-based blogger Alexis Sassard received an email from Instagram stating that the above photo of her, in which she is nursing her 19-month old daughter, had been removed for "violating our community standards." She then logged on to Instagram, only to discover that that her account had been disabled. So she set up a temporary account with the same picture. Hours later, it too was off limits.
This might seem like a clear case of corporate prudes vs. nursing mother, an occassion to rally the La Leche League and dispatch some enraged lactavists to Instagram HQ in San Francisco. But it's actually something much stranger and rather more pathetic.
"This is high school all over again," says Sassard, who has since garnered over 1,000 signatures on a petition to change Instagram's practices. "It's bullying."
Instagram is actually fine with nursing pictures. The company also claims to be too large to police itself, so after a certain number of people flag a post as inappropriate, they disable an account. That means that a group of malcontents can cooperate to boot a random Instagrammer from the site. Or, in this case, most likely a group of phenomenally bored blog readers who spend their copious time on the site Get Off My Internets.
"At first it started off with picking apart my looks," says Sassard. "Then, pointing out that my husband and I have an 18 year age difference, 'she is a horrible mother,' 'she is pathetic,' 'she just wants attention.'"
The comments were in reference to Sassard’s blog, which consists of pictures of her looking gorgeous while carrying her baby in a sling. There are also recipes. We’re not talking about the Drudge Report here.
“I breast fed,” offers someone calling herself Miss Lemon, “and think her strange pictures doing so is so weird. It's a normal everyday thing not some damn art for crying out loud weirdo.” “Stupid bitcheroo,” adds wordsmith SmelleKelle. Her baby’s looks are apparently not off the table. Nor are her, uh, recipes: ‘I may be wrong here,” notes one commenter who apparently reads the blog closely enough to know Sassard’s husband’s food preferences, “but if you ‘substitute garlic for shallots’, doesn't that mean you use the garlic rather than the shallots? Garlic to which her husband is averse?”
Sassard believes that these very loyal readers reported her to Instagram authorities. At first, she figured she would just deal with her revoked Instagram privileges, but she didn't like the idea of caving, and there are other women to whom this has happened. Thus, the petition. "I have a real problem with people over-sexualizing our children in that way," she says, "and I'm not going to complain unless I'm going to do something about it."