Facebook restores Halifax artist's photos of nipple tattoos

Amber Thorpe says she does about 100 nipple tattoos on breast cancer survivors every year.

Amber Thorpe says she does about 100 nipple tattoos on breast cancer survivors every year

Amber Thorpe said clients often find her on social media. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

Facebook has restored pictures taken down from a Halifax tattoo artist's personal profile page that were frequently getting flagged as nudity. 

Amber Thorpe, owner of Adept Tattoos in Halifax and Bedford, tattoos nipples on her clients who have lost nipples after having breast reconstructive surgery.

"We're very sorry about this mistake. The pictures were removed in error and restored as soon as we were able to investigate," a Facebook spokesperson wrote CBC News in an email Tuesday.

"Our team processes millions of reports each week, and we sometimes get things wrong."

CBC News could not reach Thorpe for comment Tuesday.

Last stage of a difficult fight

In an interview Monday, Thorpe said women have cried and hugged her after their tattoos were finished, seeing it as the last stage of a long difficult fight against cancer.

"Once all the surgeries are done and they're healed, then I go in and put the colouring of the areola and the nipple back on," said Thorpe. "So it looks as natural as we can possibly make it."

An example of some of Amber Thorpe's work. (Adept Tattoos)

The pictures have remained on other social media platforms like Instagram — which Facebook owns — and Twitter. 

Thorpe said she's not sure whether it's a Facebook algorithm that deems the pictures as inappropriate, or if Facebook receives complaints from its users.

Facebook's nipple position

Facebook does have a policy against some nude images on its platform, even if it is for things like awareness campaigns or artistic projects.

According to Facebook's community standards page, the reason it restricts nudity is because some users "could be sensitive to this kind of content because of their cultural background or age."

Furthermore, they "restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple, but always allow photos ... showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring."

Supportive community

Thorpe said she's received a lot support from the community.

"A few people have said that if they're being taken down as being actually real, then they must be good," she said.

Thorpe said social media is the best way for women who want their nipples restored in ink to find her. 

"It's such a big thing with tattooing. If we're banned from something like that then it's really hard to reach the people that need to be reached," she said. 

'It is a medical procedure in the end'

The nipple tattoos cost $150. Thorpe said that cost only covers the cost of medical supplies and ink. 

"It is a medical procedure in the end," said Thorpe. "It's the final stage."

There is at least one other tattoo artist in Halifax who has been giving nipple tattoos for free to mastectomy patients and transgender people.