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High school teen accuses Instagram of discrimination

Posted at 11:14 AM, Jul 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-15 15:02:42-04

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – Samm Newman knows what she is.

“I’m a big girl, I’m proud, and I post lots of body love,” Newman said.

But what she doesn’t know is why that got her kicked off Instagram.

“How confident can you be if you keep censoring yourself because people don’t want to look at you?” Newman asked.

The 19-year-old Chillicothe student didn’t used to have the greatest self-esteem. She says she was bullied through junior high and high school, and she harmed herself to cope.

“There were times when I ate lunch in the bathroom,” Newman said.


“I’m a big girl, I’m proud, and I post lots of body love,” Newman said.

Then, she found a new source of support online — and began taking part in a body positivity movement on Instagram.

A group of women using hashtags like “body love” and “pizza sisters 4 lyfe,” and posted pictures and compliments.

“It was my safe place, because when I went there, I could share anything,” Newman said.

But did she share too much? Over the weekend, Newman’s account was removed.

Instagram said she violated their community guidelines under their “what not to do” headline. They warn against sharing photos that show nudity or mature content.

Newman says it’s a double standard.

A photo of Newman in her favorite polka dot boy shorts and bra was removed just hours before her account was rendered useless.

“I didn’t find them or the bra at all inappropriate,” Newman said. “They covered me entirely, and I’ve seen pictures like that all over Instagram.”

The size 24 teen says it’s size discrimination, and there are plenty of photos of thin women wearing much less, even nothing at all.

Newman said she’s reported some accounts — but they are still active.

In the meantime, she’s concentrating on the end result of all this, and hopes that by sharing her story she will be a motivation to others.

“I’m going to make a difference in the world, regardless of whether Instagram cooperates or not,” Newman said.

A spokesperson from Instagram made the following statement on Newman’s incident, saying:

“When our team processes reports from other members of the Instagram community, we occasionally make a mistake. In this case, we wrongly removed content and worked to rectify the error as soon as we were notified. We apologize for any inconvenience.”