Breast cancer, Facebook bans, Mastectomy, Self-confidence, Self-Esteem, Strong Women, tattoos

Mastectomy Scars Pornographic?

You may have heard about Facebook’s latest news. No, not its IPO problems, or CEO Zuckerberg’s wedding. This one is related to censorship of photos. In this case, mastectomy photos such as the example below.

The other day I wrote a post on ‘swimsuit confidence,’ a promotion by Land’s End, Curvy Girl and Beyond the Booby Trap. It was all about celebrating your body. This promotion asked for photos of women wearing their bath suits with confidence. It was all about body image and feeling good about who you are. 

In that same vein of feeling good about oneself, Joanne Jackson,  a 40 year old married mother of two and breast cancer survivor posted, on her own Facebook timeline, photos of her mastectomy scar.

After Joanne beat cancer she wanted to celebrate “kicking cancer in the ass” by sharing her story with her family and friends. You know the saying, a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Well, Joanne posted the professional   photos she had taken of her new body, scars and all, showing her audience her story. 

Photos illustrating her self confidence, strength, and courage in the face of cancer were banned as offensive and  “pornographic,” by Facebook.  Joanne expressed shock and anger that they sent her a warning and threatened to shut down her account. They cited their community standards:

Facebook has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and imposes limitations on the display of nudity. At the same time, we aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.

 The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines pornographic as: 

the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement
 material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement
 the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction

Take a look at the photo, then the definition. Facebook failed the dictionary test. 

I can relate to Joanne’s celebratory feeling and the desire to share a story of survival with others. Six years ago, when my chemo and Herceptin treatments were completed, I had a porta-cath removed from above my breast. It had been there for a year leaving a couple of  scars.

Months later I too wanted to celebrate kicking cancer’s ass and had a butterfly on cherry blossoms tattoo (symbols of rebirth)  placed over the area above my breast. It was a reminder of something I will never forget. Not only because of the horrible chemo, family stress, and the reminder of mortality but because beauty came out of the pain. I survived and I wanted to celebrate that fact. Just as Joanne wanted to do with her own family and friends. 

I kept my bathing suit top on just in case someone construed my upper body as pornographic.


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