Dear Instagram, Stop Deleting My Disabled Body

Dear Instagram, Stop deleting my disabled body

Both of the photos you see above and more have been deleted by Instagram. Do you see bare genitalia or nipple? I don’t.

When I starting immersing myself in the online community of Instagram by sharing my life with SMA, I began to feel a need to show people that disabled people can and do feel sexy in their bodies. This realization subsequently opened up the door to my current mission: bringing needed representation to disabled bodies and promoting inclusion.

When I decided to start celebrating my body openly online, I was feeling every emotion between scared shitless and anxiety riddled. But, I decided I wanted to take part in the body positive movement and add disabled bodies into the mix of the other marginalized bodies that are frowned upon by society. I posted the first photo where my nude body was apparent and instantly saw a drop in my following. Uh oh, maybe the wrong move. On the flip side, the comments of support and messages I was getting where overwhelmingly positive. Besides the fact that by me posting my crooked, boney, distorted, marginalized body was adding representation to disabled bodies — I felt an overwhelming sense of liberation with a healthy sprinkle of empowerment. I felt seen. Goodbye followers who are uncomfortable looking at my body, it was nice knowing ya.

From that point on, this was my new mission, my newfound passion, and a main tenant of my advocacy as a disability blogger. Showing the world that disabled bodies matter. We would no longer be silenced, forgotten about, or hidden — at least I thought.

As I continued my work to bring representation to bodies that are different, it wasn’t long before Instagram took down my first photo claiming that I violated their terms of nudity. It was when I decided to remake a sexy as hell picture of Kim Kardashian that she had just posted on her Instagram, that my photo was deleted. Before Instagram decided to be biased by deleting my disabled body and leave Kim’s up, the likes, comments, and messages were rolling in... thanks a lot Instagram. I thought the juxtaposition of a celebrity whose body we celebrate the most next to a disabled body who we never celebrate, both looking sexy, sent out a strong message: you don’t have to look like Kim K to feel good in your body. But, Instagram shut that down real quick which also sends out a message: we can delete disabled bodies because we want to. Another ride on the ableism train, how fun.

In all of my posts that are about celebrating your body, I never show any genitalia — unlike many bloggers, advocates of body positivity, models, or celebrities. Yet, my multiple photos I have posted have been removed by Instagram while ones that do show bare booty or boobs are left alone. You might be thinking, “Oh well Alex, it’s just a photo, get over it.”

The thing is, it’s more than just a photo. It ties directly into a violation of my human rights by Instagram holding a double standard between whose bodies they will allow to be seen. I deserve the right for my body to be celebrated as much as anyone else on Instagram. I deserve to exist. I deserve to advocate for disabled body positivity. It’s my right that’s being taken away from me on a platform on which I use to advocate. Not only does it hurt me, it’s hurting the disability community. How do you think my followers are going to feel about Instagram deleting my disabled body? What message is it sending? I’ll tell you.. a big FUCK YOU and your disabled body.

My account is currently flagged, as two of my photos have been taken down by Instagram within the last two weeks, despite my re-posting the original photo with MORE coverage. What gives? I cannot risk my account being taken down because my account is my livelihood. I run my business and my advocacy work from my account. To have that in jeopardy is scary. That’s why I’m talking about it, so we can bring awareness to this gross bias and discrimination on social media against disabled people. I can post my photos on here and no one can delete them. It’s safe.

A domino effect can bring change. Raise your voice, share this, and let’s talk about it, because disabled bodies DO matter. We deserve to be seen.