For plus-size blogger and influencer Gabriella Lascano, fashion and beauty is life. Known for her edgy style and IDGAF attitude, the blogger has carved out a significant space for herself in the industry.
She's racked up 57.9K followers on Instagram; her YouTube channel has roughly 22K subscribers; and she's worked with major brands on various products — and in fact, her fashion hauls and beauty videos are exactly how she earns her income. Her demeanor is playful, sassy, and yes, even sexy.
But Lascano's sex appeal was evidently too hot to handle for YouTube.
On Monday, January 23, Lascano received a notification from YouTube claiming that the video above of her fashion haul was placed under an age restriction for its "sexually explicit" content.
In the video, which had been up since December 7, 2016, Lascano offers viewers 33 seconds of a tight dress with a low neckline. The remaining two minutes feature her playfully dancing in a bodycon turtleneck dress. It racked up over 444,000 views.
"Basically I was really excited; it's my most watched video. I have been watching it grow and it's just been such a source of joy and such an accomplishment for me as well as helping me make money and just grow my social networks."
Though the age restriction doesn't ban the video entirely, it does prevent any user under the age of 18 who is not logged in from seeing the video — and considering a good portion of Lascano's followers are teenagers, it would have a direct impact on her revenue.
Technically speaking, YouTube is within its rights.
According to community guidelines, when a video is reported, YouTube can put an age restriction on videos for a myriad of reasons. This includes everything from certain camera angles to "If a subject is minimally clothed, whether the clothing would be acceptable in appropriate public contexts (e.g., swimwear vs. lingerie)."
Lascano's video did feature closeup detail shots and playful dancing, but, as Lascano claims, none of it was done with sexual intent.
YouTube informed Lascano her video was restricted after review with a standard response, that includes a pretty offensive reason.
"It really bothers me, first of all, that my video would be seen as fetishized or pornographic or sexually explicit in any way because it definitely was not. Clearly my audience is teenagers and older, but it does not mean that my videos in any way, shape, or form are 'rated R.'"
And the fact is, plus-size women are victims of this kind of bias all the time. Even plus-size model Tess Holliday.
"I am really bothered that my body is seen as sexually explicit when I was fully clothed in the video, so there's no explanation," Lascano told Revelist.
As of January 25, YouTube has since lifted the restriction off of the video, after Lascano contested it, stating that there was in fact nothing wrong. And while YouTube bans and restricts videos based on user complaints, it is important to keep two things in mind:
1.) There are plenty of videos that exist on YouTube that feature fashion hauls with straight-size women modeling lingerie or tight dresses, and they go unreported. It is completely fair to assume that fat phobia is at play.
2.) The first time that YouTube contacted her, the company explicitly said it was reviewed and deemed inappropriate enough to be restricted.
While Lascano is thrilled that YouTube retracted the restriction, it brought to light some harsh realities for her.
I also feel so horrible because I am a full-time blogger, full-time YouTuber, and influencer, and this is how I make my money — this is my livelihood. For so long I felt like I had no place in the professional career world because of my size. I have seen firsthand how my size has influenced my ability to get hired for professional-setting jobs and finding YouTube and social media as a platform and as a means of making money was such an amazing thing for me, and now I feel like I'm not even accepted here.
Hopefully YouTube, and other social media outlets, will put more effort into investigating thoroughly before they ban.
Revelist reached out to YouTube for comment. While the company did not release a specific statement on this case, it did clarify and affirm its community guidelines.