Instagram took down a photo of Madonna because part of her nipple was showing — and Madonna hit back.
On Thursday, the 63-year-old artist reposted images of herself on her verified account with heart emojis over the nipples after Instagram removed the original photos because they breached the site’s adult nudity rules.
The photos show Madonna wearing fishnet stockings, red bottom heels, and either a black top or no top at all. She told her 17 million followers that she finds it “astounding” that our culture “allows every inch of a woman’s body to be shown except a nipple.”
“As if that is the only part of a woman’s anatomy that could be sexualized. The nipple that nourishes the baby!” she wrote. “Can’t a mans [sic] nipple be experienced as erotic ??!! And what about a woman’s ass which is never censored anywhere.”
She then gave thanks for her ability to “maintain” her “sanity” through 40 years of censorship, sexism, ageism, and misogyny.
“I’m reposting photographs Instagram took down without warning or notification,” Madonna wrote in the caption of her photo repost. “The reason they gave my management that does not handle my account was that a small portion of my nipple was exposed.”
Meta, the company that owns Instagram, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Mashable, but it told CNN in a statement that the company “take[s] down content that breaks our rules whenever we find it, no matter who posts it.”
“While we understand not everyone will always agree with where we draw the line, our rules are designed to help keep everyone of all ages safe on our apps, while giving space for as much expression as possible,” Meta told CNN.
This comes just months after Instagram changed its rules on public nudity — ever so slightly. In response to a Facebook Oversight Board recommendation, the company clarified that while it does restrict the “display of nudity or sexual activity,” the rules are a bit more nuanced than that. “Health-related nudity,” like images depicting breastfeeding or gender confirmation surgery, are allowed. Nudity is also allowed if it is in an act of protest. None of this is necessarily a win for the #FreeTheNipple movement, but it’s at least a step towards nuance.