On Wednesday 1st September frustrated nipple artists and breast cancer survivors from across the UK gathered together, all wearing inflatable boobs, to show social media platforms they have a voice.
Our head medical trainer, Kelly Forshaw Smith, was there supporting the campaign in her giant inflatable boob costume.
Head Medical Micropigmentation Trainer, Kelly Forshaw-Smith in her inflatable boob costume
On the day, the areola artists met at 11 am in Soho Square Gardens, London to get ready and excited. While changing into their giant inflatable boob costumes, the areola artists excitedly chattered and introduced themselves. We spoke to a few of them before the protest:
Sophia Wyatt from Guildford said she was there “to support everyone in the campaign against Facebook. [I am] fed up with getting banned and getting posts blocked and we are here today to make sure that they will identify their work as medical art and NOT PORNOGRAPHY”.
Vicky Morgan from Cornwall was there “to support everyone and show that they are proud and passionate about their work. We need social media to show our images so warriors can see how great they can look again after breast cancer”.
After suiting up, together, the group of medical artists and breast cancer warriors marched from Soho Square gardens and gathered outside Facebook headquarters in Rathbone Square, near Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road, wearing giant inflatable breasts.
Medical artists marching to Facebook head quarters
Standing together, the warriors and artists began their peaceful protest together outside Facebook headquarters.
It began with a speech from medical artist Vicky Martin, the founder of World Medical Artists platform who said “For so long I have been hearing breast cancer survivors and artist’s frustrations and concerns with social media platforms blocking and removing posts and accounts. This is happening within the breast cancer and Medical Artists World with post mastectomy pictures being labelled as ‘porn’ and hence being removed.
The frustration lies with artists being unable to show the world how incredible you can look after breast cancer. These important images are deemed to be Pornographic and are subsequently removed and accounts are blocked by social media platforms. This is why we are here today”.
Michelle Collier and Alex Deadman singing 'Warrior'
After Vicky’s speech, the sea of inflatable boobed artists sang and chanted breast cancer warrior, Michelle Collier’s song - a song she wrote specifically for the protest ‘Warrior’.
During the protest, Finishing Touches technicians’ – medical and non-medical – across the UK wore areola micropigmentation stickers and shared their support through Facebook and Instagram. These areola stickers were created and designed by our Head Medical Micropigmentation trainer, Kelly Forshaw-Smith and were included in Finishing Touches product orders so technicians that could not attend the protest could still support it.
Finishing Touches Technicians' wearing areola stickers
The protest was an empowering day and a great chance to network with other talented areola artists but most importantly the artists made sure they were heard. We hope Facebook hears the medical artists' concerns and lets their art be shown on social media!
We caught up with a few more artists after the protest:
A breast cancer survivor, who asked to stay anonymous, said “they need to know how it makes us feel when we have areola micropigmentation. These artists need to be able to show their work as we need to know about it. It makes all the difference.”
Dawn, a technician and breast cancer survivor said “Once I got breast cancer, it made me really realise what my ladies [clients] go through. It does affect you. I’ve been through the journey and got my areolas tattooed after. I can’t even describe to you how it makes you feel. It really completes the end of your breast cancer journey.”
Taania Wood, an areola artist based in Storrington said “I think the protest went really well. I think it is really important to let them know that we will continue to protest until they make a change. For me, I haven't been in the industry for very long, so for me, it would be amazing if Facebook made this change because when you are new to the industry and you are worried about your account being blocked and shut down - it’s difficult! This change is very important to newbies to the industry.”
Kelly Forshaw-Smith with breast cancer survivor Michelle Collier and Alex Deadman
Kelly Forshaw-Smith, our head medical micropigmentation trainer who travelled from Worthing, said she “felt that the protest went well. The song that Michelle wrote and sang was so powerful and full of emotion. I really hope that Facebook has heard our concerns and do something about the constant blocking and shutting down of our art.”
The end goal is for all medical micropigmentation artists and breast cancer survivors throughout the world to be able to freely post images without being blocked and subsequently losing their account. Most importantly, medical artists want to use these images to show other breast cancer patients that they are out there.
The protest was a great success with news coverage ranging from local to national newspapers including:
The Daily Mail ‘Dozens of medical tattooists who ink nipples on cancer survivors dress as giant inflatable BREASTS outside Facebook HQ in protest over it banning their posts for being 'too sexual' - https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9947301/Dozens-medical-tattooists-dress-giant-inflatable-BREASTS-outside-Facebook-HQ.html?ito=native_share_article-masthead
The Argus ‘Protesters march on Facebook’s London office over nipple images’ -
MyLondon 'It's art not porn': Medical tattooist helping breast cancer survivors, victims of torture, and trans people 'banned' from social media - https://www.mylondon.news/news/zone-1-news/its-art-not-porn-medical-21507022
Huffington Post ‘These Giant Boobs Are Protesting Outside Facebook's London Office’ - https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/boobs-outside-facebook-ofice_uk_612f86e1e4b0df9fe270af2e
Evening Standard ‘Protesters dressed as giant breasts march outside Facebook’s London office’ https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/facebook-breast-rules-nudity-london-instagram-b953267.html?itm_source=Internal&itm_channel=section_banner&itm_campaign=breaking-news-ticker&itm_content=6
The group of medical artists await Facebook’s response with hopes that they hear the concerns of the medical artists and breast cancer survivors.
Kelly Forshaw-Smith with fellow medical artist Vicky Morgan