United Pole Artists, Pole Dance Nation and thousands of professional and amateur pole dance athletes, dancers and fitness enthusiasts have united in an effort to bring Instagram to task with claims of sexism and discrimination attributed to the social media platform.
A Change.org petition has already compiled over 12,000 signatures in less than a week, asserting that Instagram is unfairly hiding and burying pole related hashtags and content with their algorithm system.
Hashtag usage on Instagram is instrumental for accruing exposure for postings and followers within the platform’s system.
Pole fitness as an international competitive sport and dance art has exploded in popularity in the last decade. The Global Association of International Sports Federations granted Observer Status to the International Pole Sports Federation in 2017, the first step in a journey to Olympic recognition.
“Instagram has no problem running paid advertising for the latest J-Lo movie ‘Hustlers’ featuring top Hollywood actresses and recording artists like Cardi B, and demonstrating their pole dance skills, but actual real life dancers and athletes are deemed ‘inappropriate.’ It’s an unfair double standard.” – Nikki St John, author of “Pole Dancer” and founder of @PoleDanceNation
Hundreds of thousands of amateur and professional polers from around the world have used Instagram for years to network, share inspiration and knowledge.
For competitive athletes, instructors, performance artists and small business owners, social media is crucial to professional survival. Interest in the pole industry has been fueled by the growth in social media usage, with postings offering education and insight into an often-misunderstood art form.
In July 2019, almost all popular hashtags like #poledancing and #polefitness, and technical tags like #pddeadlift and #pdayesha, used by the online pole community to train and connect were hidden – tagged with a message from Instagram saying “…content may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.”
Internationally famous pole dancer, instructor and business woman Michelle Shimmy, at Pole Dance Academy, in Australia, has over 175,000 Instagram followers.
She cries foul.
“We see an alarming trend of policing female bodies on Instagram, a trend that doesn’t seem to affect male bodies in the same way. This policing of women’s bodies is not okay,” Michelle Shimmy said.
United Pole Artists (UPA) has been active in the pole community since 2009 and boasts close to 200,000 followers on Instagram.
The organization recently published an in-depth feature about the community’s concerns per Instagram at https://www.unitedpoleartists.com/learn-about-and-take-action-on-the-pole-dance-shadowban/