Instagram and fat bodies...

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Does Instagram have issues with fat bodies?

Malene Nelting has had her Instagram profile since 2017. You can find it under the username @malene_nelting, but for many years it was called @det_fordi_jeg_er_tyk ("because_I'm_fat"). Malene is in training as a photographer, and it's a bit of a bumpy road that has led her there, with stress and mental problems, but she feels she's in the right place now - and by September she's done her apprenticeship.

Two years ago, Malene Nelting underwent obesity surgery. It was there, in the months leading up to her, that she started “sharing more of myself,” as she puts it, on her Instagram profile. Malene is a feminist and, as she says, a “micro-activist” with a body-positive agenda, and she wanted to push through the taboos surrounding obesity, fat bodies, and how the body can look without retouching, facetune and filters.

"It really frustrates me," she says, "that I can not share that this is how my body looks."

Like many other identity-political movements, body positivity has found a mouthpiece on Instagram. The American thick activist Carina Shero has said that "the only media we plus-size people have are the ones we create ourselves", and Instagram's image-borne and network-oriented universe is basically a very suitable tool for that task. Malene Nelting is one of those who make use of it - and who greatly appreciates its existence. "I wanted to document my body as it looked before it was operated on, and then see how it then developed with the weight loss afterwards," she says. "And the pictures I posted were mostly without clothes on, because that's where you can best see how the body behaves.

"Malene Nelting got a really good response to her photos on Instagram. Her followers were happy with the turn her content had taken, they supported her, shared experiences and backed up. But Instagram's content moderation - which consists of both algorithmic control and human moderators - was apparently less satisfied. "I had never taken content down before," says Malene Nelting. “It started there. Even though I did my best to stay within the rules and do as I could see others doing - like not showing butt crack and blurring nipples. I have had pictures removed, my profile has been temporarily disabled three times, and I have been notified that I risk having my profile permanently deleted if I break the rules again.”

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