Social Media Censoring of Breast Cancer Survivor Tattoos

My name is Tanya Buxton, I’m a traditional tattoo artist based in Cheltenham, UK and I’m on a mission to raise awareness and to change the censoring issues surrounding medical tattooing.

Social media censorship is a HUGE topic, and I could talk about the countless issues, hypocrisy and double standards for hours, and I’m on a mission to raise awareness and change the censoring issues surrounding areola tattooing.

Cosmetic and Medical tattooing can be used for a wide variety of reasons from cosmetically enhancing your natural brow shape, to replicating hair on alopecia clients and even creating a 3D realistic nipple on a breast cancer survivor. 

Areola Tattooing is truly incredible, this type of tattooing treatment is life changing for so many people, including:

– breast cancer survivors (post mastectomy surgery)

– trans community (post top surgery)

– post breast surgery

– skin conditions

– vitiligo

– skin trauma (from illness or injury)

Social media are censoring these types of tattoos, claiming they are ‘violating standards on sexual and nudity’  which, let’s face it, with everything we see on the internet nowadays, is complete bullshit!! Artists are constantly having their pages banned and photo’s removed from social media, Facebook in particular is the biggest culprit of this, I myself have had photos removed and my business page is constantly on the ‘watch list’  There are so many layers of double standards and discrimination surrounding this subject, and I feel really strongly that this needs to be talked about more and for social media to be more accomodating and supportive of this type of tattoo treatment, and also towards women’s bodies and the other people who might need this treatment.

My first issue is ‘sexual and nudity’ :

My most important point in all this, is that these tattoo images posted by artists are exactly that, a TATTOO.  No real life, naked nipples are being let loose and posted for viewers to ogle at, it’s a photograph… of a tattoo… that just looks like a nipple! Yes they might look real (which is the point!) but they are still simply a tattoo, myself and all areola artists I know of are extremely mindful and respectful of their clients and imagery being used, making sure all captions and photos are clearly explained that it is a tattoo, and who the tattoo is for….yet still, we are being taken down and banned from Facebook. Why?

My next issue is the double standard of gender:

So Mr Zuckerber, why is it ok for male nipples and topless male torsos to be posted with no issue, offense or blink of an eye, but you post a female breast and all hell breaks loose?! I personally think this general attitude towards the female form is completely out dated and sexist anyway (don’t even get me started on people being outraged by breast feeding in public) but even putting my views on women’s bodies being sexualised and the shamed aside, this type of tattooing and imagery isn’t really on the provocative scale whatsoever is it?! This is a tattoo for an incredible warrior who has overcome cancer; they have endured painful surgery and treatment, lost part of their body and fought their way back to health. Areola Tattooing is a huge healing stage for many people, it marks closing a traumatic chapter in their life and celebrates a new beginning of health and confidence. This type of tattooing not only boosts self esteem and body positivity, but also helps heal emotional scars too. So how on earth can this be deemed inappropriate by social media? I just can’t get my head around it! 

My third and final issue is the double standard of content that is allowed:

Have you ever been scrolling through Facebook or Instagram on thought 

‘Whoah!! WTF!?!’  Yeah, me too. The amount of upsetting, explicit and inappropriate content that is on our feeds is not only mind blowing but also a bit frightening, the volume of videos or photos shared on a daily basis that are of extreme violence, animal cruelty, pornographic and dangerous is shocking! Yet posting a photo of a tattoo on a courageous woman who has survived breast cancer, and is taking back her body is seen as inappropriate and then removed? Come on Facebook, you’re taking the piss!One example of this double standard, and I use this not because I am against the page but because it is also tattoo related, is a hugely popular Instagram page called @snake___pit ( this is a light hearted page, showcasing outrageous and shitty tattoos, with a following of nearly 650k. Now, I’m not against pages like this whatsoever (we all enjoy a good laugh at people’s stupid tattoos) but my point is, how can a realistic tattoo of a woman giving a blowjob, a realistic vagina covered in cum or a nun masterbating with a crufix (no, I’m not kidding!) be deemed appropriate for our feed, but a mastectomy tattoo of a realistic nipple on a breast cancer survivor is ‘violating standards on sexual and nudity’

Is it a matter of popularity? Are pages or influencers with a larger following given more leniency in the content they post? I just can’t understand the hypocrisy of it.

I feel these issues need addressing and ultimately I want social media to recognise the importance of this type of tattooing, and support the artists involved more. Having our posts and pages removed and suspended is not only damaging to our business but it also prevents us reaching potential clients who are looking for, or trying to find out more information about this type of service. Our platforms on social media are hugely important, as an artist myself, it allows me to show my portfolio to a larger audience and engage with more people who I might not necessarily have reached without my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. It allows us to network and connect with not only potential clients but also with hospitals, clinics and charities so we can share our work and educate on the quality and diversity available through tattooing, and resulting in be able to achieve the best end results for our clients, because it is them who are most important in all of this.

I have started a petition to try and raise awareness on these censorship issues, with the goal of getting Facebook to change their guidelines.  

Please sign, share and repost as much as you can, together we can make a difference!