Earlier this summer, I decided to run an Instagram yoga challenge for two reasons:
1. To promote body positivity among all shapes, sizes and abilities.
2. To get more followers. (I’m just being honest. I think most people will tell you it’s not about this, even as they are checking their numbers every 5 minutes. You can only help more people if you have more people to help!)
It was an epic fail on both accounts, not because of anything I did, but because of how I’m shaped. And Instagram of course.
It started with the photo session. My friend, Roxannne, and I did our own photo shoot at Float in South Jersey. We had so much fun. We adjusted our mood lighting, we laughed for hours, and most importantly...we wore our bikinis. First of all, we were at a saltwater float spa in the yoga room, so this was not too far-fetched. But the whole idea was to put it all out there. All of our soft rolls in our forward folds, our love handles in our side bends, our cellulite and tight hamstrings in our Birds of Paradise. We wanted to show that anyBODY could fall in love with yoga, and shouldn’t be afraid to wear whatever they wanted to practice yoga.
But it turns out, you should be afraid. That’s if you want anybody to see your posts. Because if you are not a size 00 and straight up and down, Instagram will shadow ban you.
Because if you are not a
size 00 and straight up and
down, Instagram will
shadow ban you.
What’s a shadow ban, you ask?
According to Wikipedia, “Shadow banning, also called stealth banning, ghost banning, or comment ghosting, is the act of blocking or partially blocking a user or their content from an online community such that it will not be readily apparent to the user that they have been banned.”
According to business2community.com, “Instagram Shadow-ban is a ban that renders your hashtags undiscoverable by vibrant users. Only your followers will be able to see your feed and not the entire Instagram community. The ban is superficial and happens only when a rule has been broken. You have to fix those red flags to get your content back in good standing.”
What’s the red flag here? Well, good reader, my ass was too big. In my bathing suit bottoms.
Let me explain. In some of my photos, I was wearing shorts. All of my hashtags worked including the hashtags we picked for the challenge. In the photos where I was wearing bikini bottoms (and nothing risque either; I don’t own any thongs), none of my hashtags worked.
“Acceptable” Photo "Unacceptable" Photo
Because they didn’t work for me, they also stopped working for Roxanne and for all the people following our challenge! They were guilty by association. The only time the hashtags worked was when the participant was in shorts or at an angle where less of their tushy was showing.
I’m a rebel. I don’t take an unfair policy lightly. I fight it. That’s how my momma raised me.
So I tried to promote a post. Granted, the pose was Dhanurasana or “Bow Pose”. It does have some sexual connotations, so maybe it wasn’t my best choice. But at the time, I was looking at it as a yoga pose and nothing more. The offending photo:
Here’s the message I got:
Here is how I responded to appeal it:
Here is what Instagram told me:
Remember how I don’t give up quickly? I didn’t this time either. I kept going. I sent them these three screenshots of paid advertisements by none other than Victoria’s Secret, where lots of skin was showing and the models may be in sexually suggestive positions.
It was only a matter of minutes before they accepted my ad and allowed it to run. My $5 ad.
Then, they shadow banned me again. I tried turning my account back to a personal account from a business account. It didn’t work. I tried not using hashtags. That also didn’t work. Even photos where you could not see my horribly offending derriere did not get through the shadow ban.
I was feeling frustrated and defeated. I posted about it on Facebook and told anyone who would listen. I messaged famous people and semi-famous people who were a part of this body positivity movement to ask for their help. No one replied. What could I do that would change these horrible unfair rules? These discriminatory rules that only affect bigger girls?
Yoga will go on long
is out of style.
All I could do was keep posting. Keep talking about it. And make an even greater effort to embrace the butt that God gave me as I walk through my life. Because in the end, Instagram is not the end all, be all about what is beautiful, about who can wear a bikini, nor about why I should be proud of my body. It’s just one tiny part of my yoga business. Yoga will go on long after Instagram is out of style. I will go on with or without social media. And women with large asses will continue to roam the Earth, loving themselves, with or without Instagram’s approval.
To visit and support the #yogabodypositive and #bodypositivebikinichallenge please follow my Instagram account: @yoga_with_angelique ...Also, I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever been shadow banned?