Towards a Bra-free Instagram Experience

Lauren Hallden
Dec 30, 2017 · 5 min read

Hey Instagram. I was just wondering,

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does your company collect any user feedback from women?

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I ask because I am one, and I’ve noticed that my sponsored content is…

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well, it’s a little repetitive.

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Kind of one-note. And I get why: somewhere, an algorithm has (correctly) identified that I do yoga,

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and yeah, I guess I’ve bought a sports bra or two in my day.

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And also other kinds of bras.

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So naturally, you’d like me to purchase more bras.

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Golly, there sure are lots of bras on your app!

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I didn’t appreciate just how many barely-different strategies a company might employ to lift a pair of breasts! It’s truly incredible.

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So thanks for opening my eyes. But here’s the thing:

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I’ve started feeling like

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maybe you don’t realize what being exposed to an endless string of half-naked, extremely thin women

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is doing to people like me?

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You know, I mostly just came here to see pictures of my friends’ dogs and kids and shit,

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but every time I fire up the old ‘gram these days,

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I gotta waste a ton of mental energy comparing myself unfavorably to Kayla, here.

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Or feeling like I’m supposed to figure out how to do this:

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Or whatever the hell this is.

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And here’s the thing: if you’re a woman who finds this triggering —

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— who thinks that lots of time spent looking at these images is bad for our overall mental health and sense of self-worth,

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or that the sheer quantity of this stuff says something really depressing about our value as women in the world —

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there isn’t really a way to opt out of it. Honestly, that seems like a design flaw, to me! I’ve started hiding these sponsored posts, and when you ask me why, I’ve been saying they’re

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“not relevant.” You don’t give me many more options than that, unless I decide that I’m offended. But overall, I don’t think I’m seeing fewer bra-stagrams. For my efforts, I’ve been rewarded with slightly different shapes of partially-naked women.

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But not always.

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I even went through the app and tried to figure out WTF this means.

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My…device settings? That doesn’t seem right. (Also, I think I’m already in the section called About Instagram Ads.)

Still, I followed your advice and reviewed the stuff that Facebook thinks I like. Facebook thinks I like fitness and yoga, unsurprisingly, but this experience feels more like there’s a secret box checked off somewhere, and it reads “user’s main hobbies are (1) hoarding spandex leggings, and (2) calorie deprivation.”

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Oh, and on that note: you occasionally try to tell me that unpeeled avocado slices on a bed of fucking limes is food.

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I’m being gaslit, here, Instagram. Is this really what you think my life is supposed to look like? What is even going on in this picture?

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Do men on Instagram contend with this many half-naked dudes and their butts all the time? I really want to know.

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Anyway, if you could maybe bring in an expert or two — someone who does public health research, or has studied the effects of advertising on female body image —

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you might see your way clear to giving us a little more control over how much of this content we have to scroll past to get to where we wanna go.

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Facebook seems to be piloting opt-out filtering for alcohol and parenting content, I’ve noticed, and I think that’s a great first step.

Well, I gotta go. Wishing you lots of group hugs between skinny white women of similar height; kisses; and an entire closet full of “revolutionary lace bralettes,”

-Lauren

NewCo Shift

Covering the biggest shift in business and society since…

Lauren Hallden

Written by

Lead Product Designer at @stitch_data, creator of Online Dating Ipsum, @alonelyproject & @phillydayhiker. Everything else is at http://laurenhallden.com

NewCo Shift

Covering the biggest shift in business and society since the industrial revolution

Lauren Hallden

Written by

Lead Product Designer at @stitch_data, creator of Online Dating Ipsum, @alonelyproject & @phillydayhiker. Everything else is at http://laurenhallden.com

NewCo Shift

Covering the biggest shift in business and society since the industrial revolution

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