The giant social media platform Facebook has reversed course and is now allowing posts from an artist who uses tattoos to recreate nipples on women whose breasts have been reconstructed after cancer. The change comes after a group of women led by British tattoo artist Vicky Martin put up a giant balloon outside the Facebook headquarters in London to protest Martin’s ban from the platform. Facebook says the ban was a mistake.
Martin’s Facebook page displaying her work was recently suspended for violating Facebook’s community guidelines that prohibit pornography and nudity. Uncovered female nipples are included in this policy.
After the Facebook reversal, Martin was quick to test her feed to see if the protest had worked. “This is post-mastectomy breast cancer, she wrote. "Look how artwork can create the look of having a nipple created."
Martin also said “an apology isn’t good enough” and “would like to work with the company to create new rules.”
“It is my hope that Facebook and Instagram will start paying better attention to these posts and if someone reports the work, recognize it as ‘appropriate,'” medical tattoo artist Marnie Rustemeyer tells SurvivorNet. “After personally having several posts removed, I started hiding my work behind other images. … There is nothing inappropriate about breast cancer and patients deserve to see the options available to them.”
Nipple tattoos are one way in which women whose breasts have been reconstructed after cancer are able to regain a sense of femininity and sexuality. “It’s a way to feel whole again,” said one breast cancer survivor talking about her nipple tattoos.
Free the Nipple!
“Free the nipple” and “free the nipple movement” have long been rallying cries for the breast cancer community on Facebook, some of whom view the social media platform’s policies against nudity as a form of censorship and a lack of compassion for the concerns of their community.
Top Facebook Executive Is a Cancer Survivor
It is unknown if the leader of Facebook’s business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Lady Nicola Mendelsohn, was involved in the decision. Mendelsohn, 48, has been in the news over the last year for her brave public revelations about her battle with blood cancer. Indeed, Mendelsohn has been a powerful example for working women recovering from cancer treatment.
Nipple Tattoos Gaining Popularity Among Breast Cancer Survivors
SurvivorNet has often featured women whose nipple tattoos have helped them recover after cancer.
“It seems like a little thing, but … it matters so much,” triple-negative breast cancer survivor Tamara Fedczak told SurvivorNetin an interview. She underwent several months of chemotherapy and a mastectomy after her diagnosis.
“I get to finish this whole process and get restorative 3D areola nipples tattooed on,” Tamara said while at the office of medical tattoo artist Marnie Rustemeyer. “I came a long way, this was just really important to me … this final step will give me confidence, be more complete … it feels like this is the final piece of the puzzle.”
Marnie, a thyroid and breast cancer survivor herself, said that her work allows her to give back to women who are just looking to feel whole again. It’s especially fulfilling for her because she’s been through it.
“In August of 2013 I was diagnosed with the BRCA gene or breast cancer gene mutation,” Marnie told SurvivorNet. “I chose to have both my breasts and my ovaries removed.” After her mastectomy, she gave up a career on Wall Street and went into medical tattooing.