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Instagram to Allow Breastfeeding & Post-Mastectomy Pictures
By: Jennifer Graber
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Being a woman is special. We get to experience many unique things throughout our lifetime. However, we also face issues that make life a challenge to navigate. It is those very issues that create an undeniable need to share those human, womanly experiences in a communal sense. Social media, with its variety of platforms, is one such way to share the life of a woman. Online, a woman can share her pure exhaustion as a mother, her struggles as a powerful executive, the battle of cancer, the beauty of breastfeeding, and more. Except, wait — women actually cannot share some of those things.

Up through last year, female Instagram users were not allowed to share photos with any sort of nudity (including the breast area). This seems somewhat reasonable, but does not take into account the act of breastfeeding. In fact, a female Instagram user said her account was suspended last year after posting a photo of herself breastfeeding her child. Other users apparently complained about the photo, which led to her account suspension. Celebrity moms such as Giselle Bundchen, Mayim Bialick, and Alyssa Milano have all also been seen on social media sharing breastfeeding pictures. Each has faced similar backlash, and some even received hate messages. Being a hateful jerk was evidently okay to some people.

It is not just breastfeeding pictures on Instagram that caused a rift amongst users. Women would also share post-mastectomy photos online. These photos, while perhaps shocking, provided a way to educate others about the journey of having cancer. Yet these photos were banned from sites like Instagram.

Breastfeeding and post-mastectomy shots were not allowed, yet men were freely able to show themselves without shirts. And we have all been privileged enough to see those sketchy and weird photos that somehow were allowed…..you know what I am talking about.

The social media game has changed.

Instagram has recently updated its user guidelines. Its new guidelines are clearer about what is and is not allowed for posting. Instagram’s guidelines now explicitly state nudity, harassment, shaming, or degradation is not allowed. What is now very much allowed, however, are photos of breastfeeding and post-mastectomy scarring.

What was so wrong with breastfeeding and surgical photos on Instagram, anyway? I have personally seen so much worse and much more questionable photos on social media. Though I would not share such images of myself, I can see nothing wrong with allowing them. You do not like them? Well, scroll on, people, scroll on. Scarring and breastfeeding are a part of life — simple as that. It is refreshing to see Instagram reflecting that in its updated guidelines.

Also, clarifying that harassment and shaming are not allowed seems like something that should be common sense. Do people really have to be reminded to not be jerks on social media? What happened to respectfully disagreeing or avoiding content you do not care for?

What do you think about Instagram’s newest guidelines? Are they enough and bring about adequate clarity?


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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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