As It Happens

Facebook bans technician who tattoos nipples and areolas for breast cancer survivors

A technician who tattoos nipples and areolas for breast cancer survivors has been banned from Facebook for posting images of her work on the site. But, London, Ontario's Margeaux Collyer says she isn't breaking the site's policy.
Margeaux Collyer was banned from Facebook for posting images of the reconstructive tattoo work she does for breast cancer survivors. (Margeaux Collyer/Facebook)

Note: This story contains photographs of a patient's reconstructed breasts.

Margeaux Collyer, a cosmetic tattoo technician, has been permanently banned from Facebook. The social media site says it's policy doesn't allow images of women's nipples (this doesn't include photos of women breast-feeding).

Collyer is a London, Ont. technician who's certified to tattoo areolas and nipples on breast cancer survivors. For years, she's been posting photos of her work online. As It Happens host Carol Off spoke with Collyer about her work and why she thinks Facebook should overturn the ban. Here is part of their conversation. 

A lot of women feel they're not totally healed until they get the tattoo and then the psychological impact is incredible.- Margeaux Collyer
Margeaux Collyer says psychologically many women don't feel they have made a full recovery until they get her reconstructive tattoos. (Margeaux Collyer/Facebook)

Carol Off: Ms. Collyer, first of all, can you tell us about the work that you do for women with reconstructed breasts?

Margeaux Collyer: When a woman comes to me with a reconstructed breast, the breast is quite normally flat with a silicon implant, or a saline implant, or sometimes even a tissue implant. She is totally lacking the areola and nipple complex. What I do is tattoo a very realistic looking complex onto this breast.

CO: You have been posting photos of your work for years. Why have you been kicked off the site now?

MC: I have been permanently terminated from Facebook because of pornography and nudity. That is how they are interpreting the work that I do.
(Margeaux Collyer)

CO: Why is it important to you for people to see your work on your Facebook page?

MC: Facebook is a wonderful platform and this is a subject that is not necessarily addressed in the hospital environment. A lot of women feel they're not totally healed until they get the tattoo and then the psychological impact is incredible.

CO: Can you tell us a bit more about that? Why is it important for women to have some image of a nipple on their breasts after they've lost their own breasts because of cancer?

MC: Exactly. That's a really good question. What makes the difference? I think it's in the peripheral vision. When you get out of a shower and you see that you've got the two dots. I think that your femininity is at least partially restored. I think we need to ask the women who have undergone the procedure. One woman in particular hadn't undressed in front of her husband for several years because she was embarrassed by her scars. After her areola tattoo had healed she showed her husband and they both cried. I think that is so heartwarming. This is nothing to be ashamed of. This is something that boosts a woman's self-esteem.
(Margeaux Collyer)

CO: Facebook has a policy and it says that it will remove the images of women's breasts where nipples are showing. That's in the interest of seeing women not being exploited. Why don't you think you are breaking Facebook's policy by posting these photos?

MC: One word — nipple. None of my women have nipples — not one. I'm creating an illusion of a nipple. It is not a nipple.

CO: Do you think that Facebook would recognize that distinction?

MC: I've communicated with Facebook. I'm not sure if it was a human or a bot. But no, they don't recognize the difference. There's nothing I can do. My account has been permanently banned.

CO: Are you going to appeal that?

MC: I have three times.

CO: What response did you get?

MC: I will not be receiving any emails from Facebook.

CO: That's pretty dramatic…

MC: Isn't it? Draconian... Orwellian?

For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Margeaux Collyer.


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