Samm Newman, a 19-year-old teenager, was shocked to discover that an image she uploaded showing herself wearing a white bra and polka dot briefs was removed.
Hours later, her account had been deleted altogether – despite the fact that Instagram is full of accounts posting much more provocative images featuring thinner women.
The student, who is a US size 24, accused Instagram of removing “anyone who doesn’t fit their idea of normal”, and said that the underwear she was wearing couldn’t possibly violate the website’s guidelines about sharing images “that are safe for people of all ages”.
“I didn’t find [the briefs] or the bra at all inappropriate,” Ms Newman told NBC4 News. “They covered me entirely and I’ve seen pictures like that all over Instagram.”
The teenager said that her 500 followers on the photo sharing website had been her “safe place”, where she and other young women received positive feedback for posting pictures using hashtags like #bodylove and #pizzasister4lyfe.
She said she had been bullied for her size throughout high school and struggled with self-esteem issues, but that her confidence surged when she started attending Ohio University and found such warm online support.
“Fat is not a bad word,” said Ms Newman. “How confident can you be if you keep censoring yourself because people don’t want to look at you?”
Since taking a stand against Instagram and “making a huge ruckus” about the decision to suspend her account, Ms Newman said people had thanked her for inspiring them to “feel strong and courageous and ready to fight like I have”.
Her story made national news in the US, and this week she revealed that Instagram had reinstated her account and apologised for what happened.