Terms & Conditions is a new project that brings together renowned photographers who have responded to the fact that female bodies are censored on social media
The issue of nudity on social media has been contentious since sharing images online became a ubiquitous part of contemporary life. There is a gendered slant to the ‘guidelines’ adopted by Instagram, Facebook and other platforms which dictate what can be posted: while a topless man is acceptable, an image of a woman in the same state is not. Such censorship has been the target of campaigns like #FreeTheNipple, which was first coined in 2012 (and there are now four million posts on Instagram featuring that hashtag). Now, a photographic project from Format is addressing the issue: Terms & Conditions brings together images by over 50 renowned photographers – the list includes Harley Weir, Michael Bailey-Gates, Mayan Toledano, Kayee Kiu and Isaac Anthony – who have responded to the idea of gendered censorship online.
Each photographer has submitted work to the collection, along with an explanation of how the covering up or erasing of the female body online has affected them both personally and professionally. Bailey-Gates, for example, addresses the subtle impact of social media censorship: “I spoke with artist Carly Mark who’s featured in this image, and she shared that this form of censorship makes the ‘female body inherently pornographic, rather than just a body’,” he explains. “Social media is a tricky parallel world, but changes that happen online can cause ripple effects in our own lives. Censorship on these platforms says that nipples are offensive, but only on a femme body. It’s a way of shaming a person.” The issue of shame is significant for many of the featured photographers: “When it’s hot, I often wish I could fling off my shirt and go topless without feeling awkward, or in many countries, a criminal,” writes Weir. “I don’t think people should hide or be ashamed of any part of their body, what ever gender they are.” Terms & Conditions, then, is a powerful celebration of the female form, spotlighting its importance for many contemporary photographers.
Head to Format to see more.