While the popularity of secondary applications for Instagram continues many are counteracting the pursuit for perfection. The resistance to photo-editing practices has primarily taken the form of online campaigns. Popular hashtags #uglyselfie, #armpithair and #freethenipple have all focused on not only embracing the unaltered self image but the inconsistent application of Instagram’s terms and conditions when users, particularly female, upload images that are deemed inappropriate.

#Uglyselfie was a popular movement in 2014 that encouraged young female users to post an ugly selfie, challenging the expectation of a filtered and planned upload (Bennett, 2014). There are over 56,000 #uglyselfie posts featuring exaggerated goofy faces, forced double chins and bad lighting (Instagram, 2016).

Where #uglyselfie encourages the ugly, #armpithair is a movement that empowers and supports female users with armpit hair. There are over 20,000 posts of #armpithair, with 8 of the 9 top posts on the platform featuring women.

The #freethenipple campaign is a movement that advocates challenging society’s sexualised perception of breasts (Zeilinger, 2015). With over 3.2 million tagged posts, not including any banned images, #freethenipple is one of the most popular Instagram campaigns (Instagram, 2016)

The campaign has had success in updating social media guidelines and challenging what they believe to be is a sexist double standard: the banning of posts of the female body. The image below posted by actor Matt McGorry highlights this double standard as the image features the subject wearing two nipple images taken from #freenipple photos by Miley Cyrus and Chrissy Teigen that were banned from the platform (Instagram, 2016).


Though users have embraced these campaigns, secondary applications are still popular with Instagram users and the platform’s guidelines remain unchanged. As Instagram’s guidelines have not been updated, users have adopted strategies to ensure that their images remain uploaded and their content uncensored.

Instagram’s current guidelines state that all posts must be appropriate for a diverse audience and a result no inappropriate or nude images (including any nipple images) can be uploaded (Instagram, 2016). These can be overcome by altering your account’s privacy settings and covering the “deemed inappropriate” parts (Olszanowski, 2014). As a user, you also have the ability to report what you consider to be offensive and while many of these reports are filtered by the platform, Olszanowski (2014) identifies that this is a subjective experience and many images; particularly unfiltered, non-enhanced images of individuals are reported on this basis. This was an issue for a few of the interviewees who had been reported for images that they believed to be within the platform’s guidelines.



Bennett, J 2014, ‘With some Selfies, the Uglier the better’ The New York Times, 21 February, viewed 2 June 2016, < http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/fashion/selfies-the-uglier-the-better-technology.html?_r=1>

Magdalena Olszanowski, ‘Feminist Self-Imaging and Instagram: tactics of Circumventing Sensorship

Zeilinger, J, 2015, ‘Here’s What the Free the Nipple Movement Has Really Accomplished’ Mic Network Inc. , 21 August, viewed 1 June < https://mic.com/articles/124146/here-s-what-the-free-the-nipple-movement-has-really-accomplished#.XCKXOwcgQ>

2016, #uglyselfie, Instagram, viewed 2 June 2016 < https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/uglyselfie/>