Why an influencer turned the Hollywood sign into the Hollyboob sign

Social media influencer Julia Rose says she changed the sign to protest Instagram censorship.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
  • Third place film critic, 2021 LA Press Club National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards
Leslie Katz
2 min read

The famed Hollywood sign that overlooks Tinseltown briefly read "Hollyboob" on Monday. And now we (may) know why. 

Social media influencer Julia Rose says she changed the sign to protest what she sees as censorship of racier content by Instagram . Police arrested Rose and five others for trespassing, and park rangers quickly restored the iconic sign to its usual status. 

"This was way uncool (not to mention the terrain is quite steep and dangerous)," Captain Steve Lurie, commanding officer of LAPD's Hollywood area, tweeted Monday.  

Rose is founder and CEO of Shag Mag, a digital publication that features "exclusive and uncensored content of Julia Rose and other up and coming Instagram models" (yes, there are lots of boobs). In an interview with The Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, Rose said she first came up with the Hollyboob idea last year after Instagram warned her about nudity on her personal and company accounts. The accounts had about 6 million followers combined before they were disabled, the Times reports. 

Rose told the newspaper she knew she was "pushing the boundaries of censorship" on the accounts by featuring other scantily clothed influencers, but believed Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, targeted influencers more aggressively than established brands like Playboy.

"We don't allow nudity on Instagram, and we removed these accounts for repeatedly breaking those rules," a Facebook company spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday. 

Rose, and fellow influencer Jack Tenney, one of her prank partners, maintain that the stunt had unanticipated benefits, like raising breast cancer awareness and bringing a smile to people's faces. 

"It's awesome," Rose told the LA Times. "All of it combined together has been really, really great."

The Hollywood sign was built in 1923 as a giant illuminated ad for an upscale real estate development called Hollywoodland and quickly became a tourist attraction and symbol of Hollywood glamour. It's appeared in numerous films, including Argo, Sharknado and San Andreas, and in video games including Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. The W on the sign, the tallest letter on the current version, stands at 45 feet high by close to 40 inches wide.  

Accessing the landmark atop Mt. Lee requires climbing steep terrain, but trespassers have managed to alter it before. In 2017, an artist changed it to read "Hollyweed," and in 1987, it briefly became "Holywood" to coincide with a visit from the pope.

Rose also made headlines during the 2019 World Series, when she and some friends flashed their breasts to TV cameras from seats behind home plate. At the time, they also said they were raising awareness of breast cancer. 

Rose and Tenney face court appearances for their Hollyboob hijinks later this year.