When Tommy Lee posts a full-frontal nude, it’s less offensive to Instagram than my curvy booty in a bikini

I’ve been penalized by Meta twice for supposedly violating their community guidelines, despite the pictures I posted featuring no nudity. It seems there’s one rule for white men and another for women of color

Lola Méndez
New York
Friday 12 August 2022 09:51 BST
Tommy Lee posts nude photo on social media

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Mötley Crüe’s drummer, Tommy Lee, took to his Instagram feed on Thursday to post a full-frontal nude — which goes against the social media platform’s community standards. In the picture, Lee is completely naked, with his penis is fully exposed. It seems as if he knew that what he was doing — exposing himself without the consent of viewers — was wrong as he captioned the NSFW photo with a single word: “Ooooopppsss.” At least four hours later, the publicly posted d**k pic of the 59-year-old heavy metal rocker remained on his Instagram feed.

Many of the drummer’s 1.5 million followers called Lee out for his faux pas in the comments of the scandalous Instagram post. ”TOM YOU CANT POST THIS ON INSTAGRAM,” read one comment; “So we just gon pretend nothing happened huh,” added another. According to Fox News, Lee eventually deleted the naked photo from his feed.

Like many Instagram users, I was outraged. Not because nudity bothers me — but because the app continues to censor women’s nipples, while a white male celebrity is allowed to have his penis on the main feed for hours. Instagram says it allows photos of women breastfeeding to remain published on the app — but those community guidelines were only updated after it repeatedly removed photos of women nursing their children for being “inappropriate”.

Instagram also does not allow photos of bare bottoms on the app, according to its own guidelines, but Tommy Lee followed up his d**k pic with a second post (that is still on his feed) of a naked man facing an elephant and mooning the camera. At the time of writing, it had been published for eight hours. All the interest may have been a PR ploy, as Lee has now posted a video of a concert B-roll on his Instagram feed (interestingly, without a caption.)

Lee isn’t the first white male celebrity to get away with posting nude on the social media app. Justin Bieber infamously posted an Instagram shot of his bare booty in 2015. But usually, when a user breaks Instagram they get penalized by Meta for a few days. I know this all too well.

I shared an Instagram post I found uplifting that featured a curvy woman’s booty in a thong. Unlike the BBL-surgically-enhanced behinds that have taken over social media, the woman in this image had stretchmarks and cellulite. On her skin was a quote about empowerment. I shared the image on my Instagram stories, which automatically connected to my Facebook stories. The post was taken down and I was banned from posting to Facebook stories for several days for breaking the community guidelines, even though the person in the photo was wearing underwear. It wasn’t my body that had been censored, but it still made me feel horrible — as if bodies like mine are grotesque and deserve to be hidden, while thin, white bodies should be celebrated and shown off.

Then, in May of this year, Instagram did censor my body. Months after posting a photo of myself in a swimming hole in Uruguay that was sacred land to my Charrúa ancestors, Instagram took the photo down and warned me I could lose my account if I posted nudity again. In the photo, I was clearly wearing a black thong bikini and a swimsuit top — I was not naked.

I was alerted that the post was removed for violating Instagram rules and told that I had the option to file a complaint about the takedown. I did so and the post was later reinstated, which is why I can link back to it now. Weirdly, Instagram then sent me a survey asking how it made me feel that my photo was removed. It made me feel inadequate that my body is deemed problematic for the social media app — but of course, ticking a box saying that wasn’t an option. The strongest-worded option that I could select was that it made me “feel bad”.

Instagram: Women, especially women of color, hear you loud and clear. Female behinds in thongs and bare nipples aren’t acceptable, but male musicians’ naked bodies bypass the regulations for hours.

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