Javier Jaen, also known as Javier_jaen on social media, had his artwork censored on Instagram because a nipple was showing! The artwork took the form of a movie poster for Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s newest film, Madres Paralelas. Instagram has since apologized for the removal of the poster and has restored all posts where it appears across the platform.
“We initially removed several instances of this image for breaking our rules against nudity,” a Facebook company spokesperson said Wednesday. “We do, however, make exceptions to allow nudity in certain circumstances, which includes when there’s clear artistic context. We’ve therefore restored posts sharing the Almodovar movie poster to Instagram, and we’re really sorry for any confusion caused.”
The reversal was sparked after the poster’s designer, Javier Jean complained that Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, were censoring his work. The original photos of the poster were posted to Instagram on Monday but were quickly removed for violating Instagram’s clear no-nudity guidelines. However, as was pointed out by the spokesperson, there is leeway in those guidelines for artistic expression.
The poster is for Almodovar’s newest film, Madres Paralelas, which tells the story of two mothers who give birth on the same day. The foreign film stars Penelope Cruz and Rossy de Palma. Its poster shows a lactating nipple encompassed in an eye-like shape. The design was purposeful, making the nipple resemble a teary eye. Outside of the nipple’s frame are the film’s title and credits.
Instagram had a problem with the poster revealing a nude nipple since that particular part of the body is considered a “private part.” The company previously addressed issues with nudity and released clear guidelines for its content creators.
“We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity on Instagram,” the social media platform previously stated.
It added that “this includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. It also includes some photos of female nipples, but photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too.”
The question became whether a poster of a nipple would be too inappropriate for the platform and whether it would be considered “art” and thus would be allowed. The poster’s designer, Javier Jean, explained that he expected the artwork would find trouble on Instagram but wanted to stay true to his vision. He told the AP that he had the personal backing of the director.
“He told me that he had made films with posters his whole life, long before Instagram, and he would keep doing so after Instagram, too,” Javier Jaen explained. He continued, saying that “this is probably the first image I saw when I was born. A company like Instagram tells me my work is dangerous, that people shouldn’t see it, that it’s pornographic. How many people are they telling that their body is bad, that their body is dangerous?”
The designer described the support fans sent him after the post was taken down. He also said that thousands of people reposted the image of his poster on Instagram to fight back against the company’s censorship decision. “They say their technology can’t differentiate the context. I don’t care. Change your technology then,” Javier Jean asserted.
Instagram’s controversial censorship of Javier Jaen’s poster has sparked the resurgence of the #FreeTheNipple movement. The movement wants social media platforms to view the female nipple the same as any other part of the body. It wants to see sites like Instagram and Facebook strike down its strict policies against revealing images.