Should This Post-Mastectomy Instagram Account Have Been Shut Down?
Instagram has received a ton of backlash over the past few years for banning popular hashtags — like #curvy and #goddess — and photos with female nipples and menstruation.
Activists — like those behind the #FreeTheNipple movement — have persistently protested this double standard not just on Instagram but on various social media platforms, but it seems no progress has been made.
In 2011, tattoo artist Amy Black founded The Pink Ink Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides post-mastectomy tattoos for cancer survivors and people who have reconstructive surgery after a BRCA diagnosis, after she learned that those without health insurance in the U.S. were concerned about the cost of the tattoos.
For a while, on The Pink Ink Fund's social media platforms, Black "was afraid to show anything that was a nipple even if it wasn't real," she told Mic, and only shared "other artists' work or informational posts" for fear of getting shut down.
But then, when she saw more and more people getting behind the #FreeTheNipple movement — like Scout Willis, for example — she mustered up the courage to post photos of post-mastectomy nipple tattoos on the Instagram page, like these:
Instagram seemed to respond positively at first, updating its guidelines to allow images of breastfeeding and mastectomy scars back in April.
However, a few days ago, Instagram deleted the organization's account "for not following [their] terms," resulting in the loss of over 1,000 photos of breast cancer survivors and BRCA mastectomy tattoos.
Unlike the photos attached to the eggplant emoji hashtag (which was banned, too), these pictures were not being posted for lewdness' sake; they served to provide inspiration for breast cancer survivors.
Black explained that the images she posted gave people "hope when they were about to go through their mastectomies," "inspired" many survivors to get similar tattoos, helped connect "people to artists ... and artists to survivors," and helped "spread awareness that there were other options for these people."
These images are far from inappropriate; in fact, they're essential. So, let's support Black and her movement to #BringBackPinkInkFund by spreading the word about this harmful ban and following her new account (which hopefully doesn't get taken down), @pink_ink_fund.