A few days a ago Instagram took down one of my posts for being against community guidelines. They branded it as “violent and dangerous”. The video was an explanation of my stoma – it showed my bagless body and my naked stoma and this is what they (or someone who reported me) deemed unacceptable for social media.
When I first had surgery, I was 5 stone and staring down at my new belly, covered in scars and donning the new plumbing and looking at my naked stoma made me feel nauseous and even now I find it a bit weird sometimes. So, I support the idea we should allow people to choose whether they look at my small intestine and more importantly, I would never want to trigger or upset someone. This does not however give social platforms like Instagram the right to remove their disabled creators content and brand it as “violent and dangerous”.
The community guidelines Instagram said my post violated say it is a platform that encourages “inspiration and expression” to foster a diverse community. When in practice they are censoring and removing content from its disabled creators. I am not the only one. Countless stoma influencers and creators in the broader disabled community have their content taken down or put into the “violent and dangerous” bracket. Ironically, this is one of the key motivations behind the sharing on social media by these communities. We share to show people that life with a difference is nothing to be scared of, however when the platforms we use to break this perception are deeming its disabled creators as “violent and dangerous” for sharing their bodies it further entrenches the stigma we face.
Social media should be a safe place. It’s why I created this page – to find others like me and create conversation around disability, stoma bags and stigmatised conditions like IBD. Social media has become a haven and a lifeline for people looking to find others like them and hopefully discover confidence through those who put their body all over the internet. We are the ones fostering a diverse community and encouraging inclusion!
Instagram need to review their censoring guidelines. I fully believe there should be a choice to see my bagless stoma – it’s weird and wiggly and strange – which means some form of censoring, I know. Platforms like Instagram need to recognise that disabled bodies like mine fall into a medical bucket or even just explaining it is a disability would do the trick. We need the platforms we use to support the education and positive messages we are trying to spread to help the world understand what life is life for us.
So Instagram, how do you feel about being an ally to the disabled and stoma community instead of and helping us to break the stigma, rather than entrench it further?