Scout Willis Talks Instagram Censorship and Freeing Her Nipples
#FreeTheNipple for Rihanna
Let me just say: I’d go topless in Rihanna’s name any day of the week.
Scout Willis, daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, has the same revolutionary attitude, but she’s liberating herself for reasons other than the death of @badgalriri. Hit with accusations that her posts on IG were “inappropriate” she decided to take some action against Instagram’s censorship policies and test the waters of NYC’s curious law allowing women to roam the streets topless.
As you know, Rihanna was recently charged with violating Instagram’s rules on nudity after posting shots from her shoot with French magazine LUI. Her account was temporarily removed on the grounds that her topless photos were inappropriate. Instagram claimed the account suspension was an accident on their end and reinstated the account, which Rihanna subsequently deleted after getting fed up with whole fiasco.
In light of the Instagram vs. Rihanna beef, Willis took a more hands on approach in protesting the issue of unlawful censorship by using her body as a boycott tool.
Willis posted these two photos via her own Twitter account along with the hashtag #FreeTheNipple
— Scout LaRue Willis (@Scout_Willis) May 27, 2014
Some double standards are in place to protect users, but in this day and age censorship on the web is a serious issue and could even be compared to traits of a totalitarian government. Why are we allowed to hear certain curse words on television opposed to others? Why is it okay to see half naked women posted on billboards, but taboo to see a woman breast-feed her child?
We spoke with Scout about what sparked her outrage, her feelings about Rihanna, and the root of Instagram’s censorship issues.
Mass Appeal: How are you feeling?
Scout Willis: I’m good. I’m a little overwhelmed. [Laughs]
MA: Tell me about what made you go topless.
SW: It started when I made my Instagram public. I guess I was just sort of curious and I got to a point where the public image of me read like a family tree and a rap sheet. I was like, “Maybe I can take a little bit of control over this and a little bit of ownership of my public image.” A week in, I had two emails from Instagram warning me that content of mine had been flagged. I would always look through and try to figure out which photos had been taken down. When [a] photo of a bomber jacket that I made, with a photo of my two best friends topless— it was a photograph of a photograph— was deleted, I got really upset. I was worried about my account being deleted and I woke up one day and it had. I guess the first thing I was worried about was that I lost all these photos… documentation, photojournalism of my life that I so carefully curated and put together. I tried to contact Instagram through their website and there’s no way to contact them about this.
SW: Yeah! I know on their website they have an answer page for everything, but they don’t… they can’t ever respond to emails. That’s when I took to Twitter, which I’m also very new at. I just got a Twitter in February.
MA: So Instagram flagged your photos and shut your shit down basically.
SW: Yeah. It was kinda funny at first, because I was trying to get their attention. It was kinda just a joke. I’ve known the girls who are involved in the Free The Nipple Campaign for a long time. I looked back and looked at what was really wrong with all the photos that got deleted. It wasn’t pictures of alcohol, drugs…. it was a nipple.
MA: A nipple. That’s all?
SW: That really is the root of the fucking issue— it’s areola [Laughs]. My friend showed me the Instagram of this guy Dan Bilzerian. He’s just like… I don’t even know what to say about him. His photos are so explicit, so obscene, and so degrading to the women he’s with— who he constantly refers to as bitches. He threw a woman off a roof the other day trying to get her into a pool and she broke her ankle. He’s naked!
SW: Instagram just finally sent me an email not a minute ago. ‘There are violations to their guidelines and people are being violated.” They have to take action. They have to stand by this universal policy so that no one gets violated. What if I feel violated? That’s sort of what happened. I realized this is so much bigger than anything that had to do with my Instagram. I could give a fuck about me having an Instagram or me being able to post photos.
MA: Instagram kinda sounds like the nipple police right now. Crackin’ down.
SW:Pictures of women breastfeeding is what gets people kicked off Instagram the most. That’s the whole undertone of this that I picked up on and got really upset about. There are pictures of cancer survivors who are trying to be proud of their bodies that are getting kicked off.
MA: You’d think Instagram was taking posts down to be safe, but it really just sounds like censorship. Do you think the taboo around nudity is taking away from your mission to stop censorship?
SW: I mean people are definitely freaking out. I wear see through shirts all the time and get a certain amount of attention, but why is cleavage okay but nipples aren’t okay? I’m not saying that everyone needs to be walking around topless. I think everyone should be able to choose. Women shouldn’t have to be sexualized. There’s a stigma about boobs. They’re so amazing and everyone really loves them, but I’m not sure why there’s a stigma against them.
MA: What kind of feedback have you received so far?
SW: A lot. Like really positive feedback. So many people from all different walks of life are just really out here for it, and a little bit of negative. A lot of people aren’t taking it seriously. If Instagram would just get into a dialogue with me about it and we could talk about it that would be my ultimate goal.
MA: A lot of articles are linking you to Rihanna and how her Instagram was shut down as well. You changed your Twitter profile to her LUI cover photo that Instagram flagged.
SW: The LUI magazine cover is so beautiful. It’s a celebration of the female body, the female form and what a bad-ass bitch she is.
MA: She so is.
SW: You know?! She just tweeted at me and that was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. She retweeted something someone else said, and that was fine for me. She’s on board. People were kinda linking it together before that, so I’m glad she supported. I wasn’t just using her name.
MA: Have you aligned yourself with any feminist groups that support this cause?
SW: Well the group Free The Nipple is the one I’m closely in contact with. Lina Esco is the head of that and she and I have been in constant contact about this. She’s like “you’re doing so good!”
MA: What did your mom say about this?
SW: My parents have been really [supportive]. My dad texted me “Be careful Young Willis.”
Gyasi is down to go topless for a good cause like the Free The Nipple campaign… and for Rihanna. Follow her on Twitter @thedominusg