Throughout a traumatic twin pregnancy/birth experience last year and our daughter's fight for survival that followed, I used Facebook and Instagram to share my family’s struggles with the world. The comments of support family and friends shared via social media helped us through incredibly difficult times. But now, instead of being a place where I can share my life, connect with and support others, Facebook and Instagram are banning my photos and locking me and many others out of our accounts.
After my daughters were born, I started the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. A photo documentary in which I honestly capture women with their children. Our focus is embracing the beauty inherent in the changes brought to our bodies by motherhood, childbirth and breastfeeding. Our goal is reducing stigma and normalizing what is natural. So many women I’ve encountered need these photos as part of their healing -- they help women feel powerful in their own skin and challenge society’s idea of “the perfect body”. Yet Facebook and Instagram keep taking them down and blocking us from our accounts!
Facebook has specific policies about breastfeeding photos and claims most photos won’t be banned under their guidelines. However, my artistic images that respectfully depict everyday women are continually removed. Instagram, on the other hand, has no policies about breastfeeding photos and removed my account with no notice or warning. Accounts of other women who post breastfeeding and postpartum photos have also been mysteriously taken down and their photos removed. These policies, designed to keep lewd photos off Facebook and Instagram, are misused to make women and breastfeeding moms feel like they’re doing something wrong. We have photos removed constantly that don't even show women breastfeeding. Simply the natural beauty of women wearing the equivalent of bathing suits. Our photos are continually cencored while blatent pornography and abuses are rampant on both forums.
Women, mothers, are often treated as if breastfeeding, the most natural way of sustaining human life, is something foreign or taboo. We are often told that our bodies with stretchmarks and scars are not beautiful when they should in fact be celebrated for creating and sustaining life. By removing these photos, Facebook and Instagram are contributing to this societal injustice. Join me in asking Facebook and Instagram to stop banning The 4th Trimester Bodies Project, breastfeeding women, non-sexualized nudity and our beautiful photographs.
**UPDATE** Recently, Facebook updated their Terms of Service and Instagram implemented a statement in their Rights and Responsibilities to protect breastfeeding. Unfortunately, subsequent to these changes, women have still been dealing with the removal of now protected images. Furthermore, both platforms have begun to wage a war on naturalism in childhood that on the surface aims to protect children and eliminate child pornography but in reality is vilifying inoccent and artistic photographs of children. Ourselves thorugh the 4th Trimester Bodies Project and many individual women's accounts have had photos removed and bans implimented for showcasing images of small children without shirts or diapers on. These images are not pornographic. They are beautiful innocent images of childhood in which no genitals are shown and no sexual innuendo could possibly be construed.
As women and mothers we are all for protecting the innocense of childhood, however, suggesting that a shirtless toddler discovering their belly button, a smiling baby on her mothers hip or a diaper free babe taking his first step is somehow sexual, absolutely sends the wrong message.
It is our goal to fight back against our societies unrealistic notions of beauty and normalize the powerful, radiance of real women and their families.