Unless you live under a rock, you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are articles all over about survivors, victims, and screenings. Everything is pink. Even so, when Canadian website BLUNTmoms posted an article on Facebook about how to get a mammogram, people flagged it for inappropriate content. Why? Because the featured image was of a woman undergoing a mammogram. You know, a topical image for an article about an important health issue. The presence of a nipple was enough for some users to complain, and allegedly Facebook took the mammogram post down.
This comes during a year when the conversation surrounding women's bodies and social media is happening in a more active, public way than ever. There's no question that the decision to pull the original photo was not a great one — Facebook evidently agrees since it apparently restored the photo less than 24 hours after it was removed — but it's still incredibly frustrating to have to go out of our way to remind people that female bodies are not inherently indecent.
Thankfully, according to a photo posted to the BLUNTmoms Facebook page, Facebook saw the error in its ways and sent an apology:
Bustle has reached out to Facebook for comment on the incident but has not heard back.
For sure, let's get a round of drinks for Facebook for reportedly recognizing its mistake and making the right decision to reinstate it. The real problematic underpinning of this whole story is the fact that there are still people cruising around the Internet getting offended by nipples.
Now, I understand that there's a line that somehow gets crossed when we show an actual nipple on social media. No doubt nipples are threatening body parts to some people (because women's bodies can pretty much never do the "right" thing by some people's standards, even when that thing is go to the doctor to try not to get cancer). But what about when they're being pictured to help shed light on what is often viewed as a scary procedure? A procedure that could save your life? Are we really that stuck in our refusal to let women's bodies exist as something other than sex objects that we can't even see them getting a cancer screening without finding it lewd?
All there really is to say about this is 1) good for Facebook for quickly realizing they were erroneous in pulling the photo, and 2) the fact that the photo was reported in the first place says more about the people who flagged it than the photo itself. Breast cancer will affect one in eight women at some point in their lives, and well, it just makes less than no sense to censor literally any effort to increase awareness and prevention. (I'm looking at you, #brelfie movement.)
I don't know about you, but any woman I know will tell you that when she and her boobs are doing lots of things — working out at the gym, breastfeeding a baby, checking for abnormalities and bumps — they cease to be a sexual commodity to her. Why do we need to define them as such on social media, when they are being represented in these very different ways?
It's a question we will need to continue to address if we want to move away from objectifying women, and it's nice to see that Facebook is listening to what we have to say on the issue.
Image: BLUNTmoms/Facebook (2)