Large tampon and menstrual cups at the Vagina Museum
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Instagram suspends The Vagina Museum’s content, is it because of pubic hair?

In the colourful landscape of social media, where cat videos and foodie photos make for hours of endless scrolling, there exists a little corner dedicated to a topic that is often missed in mainstream conversation: the V-word.

Yes, vaginas, and the intrepid Vagina Museum in Bethnal Green who dared to bring vaginas to the forefront of the conversation and promote a ‘vision of a world where no one is ashamed of their bodies.’

However, the museum’s bold educational journey recently hit a stumbling block when its Instagram content raised eyebrows and was subsequently reported for going against Instagram’s community guidelines. This resulted in the account being locked and historical posts from January being removed from its page. 

The museum posted on its Instagram, 

‘We just spent the day locked out from Instagram for… posting about their stance on pubic hair in art. After we kicked up a fuss on our other socials, they quietly reinstated the post, which you’ll find if you scroll back in our grid to 2nd January.

‘We’re really disappointed about the lack of communication from Instagram on what was wrong with the post in the first place, or an apology for putting us on the naughty step for drawing attention to this moderation issue.’

Screenshot of Vagina Museum Instagram account posts that were suspended
Vagina Museum posts suspended by Instagram: Credit Vagina Museum Instagram Page

The museum also took to Twitter to post screenshots of the banned post, commenting that all of the flagged content was historic paintings illustrating a model with pubic hair.

Established in 2017, The Vagina Museum is the only offline museum dedicated to vaginas, vulvas and gynaecological anatomy, with an online following of over 217,000 people. The museum’s home used to be in Camden but is now nestled in one of the arches on cobbled Poyser Street just up from the Young V&A in East London. 

The Vagina Museum stands proud, challenging societal norms and shedding light on a subject that’s traditionally been shrouded in mystery and misconceptions. 

Picture this: you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed, expecting the usual mix of selfies and sunsets, when suddenly, you stumble upon a post from the Vagina Museum that leaves you doing a double-take. Perhaps it was a perfectly innocent anatomical illustration or a candid discussion about reproductive health, but somewhere, someone hit that ‘report’ button. 

One of their followers commented on the ban, ‘As a sex educator, this is the most frustrating thing! Sex, sexuality is a part of life, and one of the reasons so many women struggle with their sexuality and bodies is because so much is censored and not spoken about. It is exhausting constantly fighting with the powers at be simply to exist.’

Now, before you start conjuring up images of explicit content flooding your feed, let’s look at what they actually post day to day. The Vagina Museum isn’t in the business of shock; instead, they’re on a mission to educate and empower. 

From workshops on menstrual health to exhibitions on endometriosis, its aim is to encourage conversation and challenge the stigma surrounding all things downstairs. 

The museum’s last Instagram post was an invite to a lecture from Dr Noam Yadin Evron discussing some of the most unusual pin badges in history – Medieval Vulvas. She explained the meaning of the genitalia badges that depict scenes such as vulvas riding horses and vulvas dressed as pilgrims.

However, in the Wild West of social media moderation, even the most educational content can fall victim to an algorithm. One can’t help but imagine the conversation behind the scenes at Instagram headquarters, a team of bewildered moderators scratching their heads as they try to decipher the intricacies of vulva-related discourse.

Zoe Williams, Head of Communications and Fundraising at the Vagina Museum, said ‘Instagram needs to review its moderation policy. Whatever it’s doing, it isn’t working if a 100-year-old painting of a woman with a bit of bush is flagged, but harmful content remains within the rules.’

Despite the temporary setback, the Vagina Museum remains undeterred in its mission to spread awareness and foster understanding and posted on its Instagram page, ‘It’s good to be back!’

If you liked this, you may enjoy reading ‘Endometriosis: Into the Unknown’: The Vagina Museum’s mission to break the silence


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