Facebook Won’t Let Breast Cancer Survivor Post Pics Of Her Boobs

A British breast cancer survivor has had her Facebook page blocked after she posted photos of her reconstructed breasts after surgery. Melissa Tullett of Kent, 40, had a double mastectomy and posted pics of her new tatas for all to see, including nipples that had been tattooed on her new rack. But Facebook said Tullett broke the site’s terms of use regarding nudity and temporarily suspended her account until she removed the pics. Tullett told the BBC she was just trying to be inspirational. “It was to show other women that after such an ordeal you can come out of it with your dignity and your womanhood again, and that it’s not all frightening,” Tullett insisted. She told the local newspaper in Kent, “I felt bullied and picked on. It really upset me, I’m really impressed with the way my breasts look now. I think my breasts look fabulous. The photo is not offensive.”

Meh. I’m with Facebook on this one. To me, it’s pretty simple: when you sign up for Facebook you are presented with the terms of use and one of those terms of use is no nudity. No nudity for anyone, even breast cancer survivors who deserve our sympathy for the hardship they’ve endured. But just because we sympathetic towards someone because he or she had cancer doesn’t mean they should get to break the rules.

The rules are in place for good reason, I think. While it may not be progressive to ban certain boob photos and not others (slutty Halloween costumes seem fine to Facebook, but the site has made women delete pics of themselves breastfeeding, which I think is wrong), I think the ultimate goal is to save Facebook the company, as well as the individual, a lot of hassle. Children use Facebook and I would imagine that some litigious parents would sue Mark Zuckerberg for his dog bowl if they discovered their 13-year-old looking at some lady’s nipples on the social networking site. And to a certain degree, Facebook is protecting its users from themselves: it’s really easy to steal pics online and do whatever you want with them. If people are allowed to post pics of breasts or other private parts and then those pics are grabbed and put on other web sites (porn sites, for instance), Facebook could spend all day long fielding frantic requests from users to help them. It seems reasonable for Facebook to avoid that can of worms entirely.

And to be honest, I’m also kind of annoyed that it seems like a lot of breast cancer awareness activism — like the “I love boobies” bracelets that cause a hullaballoo in schools — lately has to do with drawing salacious attention to oneself. I’m not a prude about risqué behavior in general, but that stuff strikes me as show-offy. I don’t think kids need to wear bracelets that say “boobies” in school to promote awareness of breast cancer, nor do women need to post pics of their naked breasts online. (But to be clear, it wouldn’t be right for me to speculate if showing off was Melissa Tullett’s intention, because she likely was proud and wanted to share.)

Do you think Melissa Tullett and other breast cancer survivors should be allowed to post pics of their breasts on Facebook? Or do you agree with Facebook’s decision?

[Kent Online (contains photos NSFW)]