The SCAR Project is a series of photographs of young breast cancer survivors shot by photographer David Jay. The SCAR Project is an exercise in awareness, hope, reflection and healing. Its mission is to raise public consciousness of early-onset breast cancer, and to help young survivors see their scars, faces, figures and experiences through a new, honest and ultimately empowering lens.
Yet Facebook has been removing photos from The SCAR Project page. They've even banned David Jay, internationally known photographer and founder of the project, from posting for 30 days. They also asked Anne Marie Giannino-Otis at Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer to remove post-mastectomy photographs from her Facebook page.
Facebook says these photos violate their policy -- essentially putting these images in the same category as pornography. The Scar Project, Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer, and other pages like them do not objectify or sexualize the human anatomy. They document the physical and emotional toll of women and men who have undergone mastectomies. They raise awareness of the disease and reinforce the need for early intervention and research toward a cure. This is the reality of breast cancer. BREAST CANCER IS NOT A PINK RIBBON.
As a woman living with Stage IV breast cancer, photos like The Scar Project help me feel a little less alone in what I'm going through. With so many young women facing breast cancer diagnoses, I know these photos give them hope, too. By removing the photos, Facebook is sending us a message that our struggle with this disease should be kept in the dark.
Facebook needs to update their policies to support men and women fighting cancer and living with the scars of the disease. According to Facebook policy, breastfeeding isn't the same as nudity: "We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and we're glad to know that it's important for mothers to share their experiences with others on Facebook." So, why is breast cancer considered a violation? Women fighting breast cancer are also beautiful, and I can't think of a more important experience to share with others than one that raises awareness of the disease and helps other women who are facing treatment.
Facebook recently listened to users who asked them to strengthen their policies around hate speech against women, so if enough of us ask them to take a stand FOR the fight against breast cancer, they'll have to listen.
Tell Facebook these photos aren't offensive, and they need to update their policies to support people fighting and living with breast cancer.