Is motherhood being censored on social media?
A photographer hoping her images will celebrate the way mothers' bodies look is crying foul after photos of partially-clad mothers and their children were deemed inappropriate and removed from social networking sites.
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Photographer Ashlee Wells Jackson, who launched the 4th Trimester Bodies Project last year, told TODAY that several of her Instagram and Facebook accounts have been shut down for violating the sites' guidelines. Meanwhile, photos of scantily clad celebrities seem to go unchallenged.
She is fighting back online with the #stopcensoringmotherhood hashtag. Wells Jackson said her photos of postpartum women in their underwear are important for all to see.
“It’s meant to heal and empower women, worldwide, and we’ve started to do that,” she told TODAY. “And not being able to publicly and socially share our work and our message that is helping and healing so many women, is damaging.”
She’s not alone. A Canadian mother said her Instagram account was shut down after she posted a breast-feeding photo and a shot of her shirtless daughter in bed, and a North Carolina mother, Jill White, was temporarily banned from Facebook after she posted a photo of her daughter recreating a vintage Coppertone ad that had part of her bottom exposed.
In a statement, Facebook and Instagram told TODAY: “It is very hard to consistently make the right call on every photo. Images showing nude or partially nude children may be removed for safety concerns. While these images may be uploaded innocently, we are particularly sensitive to the fact that other people can share and reuse the content in unintended and inappropriate ways. We’ve always allowed breast-feeding photos.”
On the morning TODAY aired this story, Facebook sent Wells Jackson the following message flagging one of her breast-feeding photos: “Please Review the Community Standards. Your Page, group or event was reported to Facebook. After reviewing the report, we determined one or more photos or posts don’t follow the Facebook Community Standards.”
Lisa A. Flam is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York. Follow her on Twitter.