Shine On

Breast cancer survivor’s chest tattoo photo goes viral after Facebook tries to remove it

This photo remains on Facebook after being removed by the company several times before. (Facebook)This photo remains on Facebook after being removed by the company several times before. (Facebook)When Ontario-based tattoo design collective Custom Tattoo Design posted a photo on their Facebook wall of a tattoo that covered the bare chest of a breast-cancer survivor, Facebook removed it.

It was reposted. And then it was removed again.

Facebook officials claimed the image violated the nudity rules in its terms of service. Apparently post-mastectomy tattoos falls short of the Facebook nod.

"We also impose limitations on the display of nudity. We aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo's David or family photos of a child breastfeeding," the social media company states.

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To protest the repeated removals, the tattoo group asked that people share the photo — and share they did.

"Hello everyone, this tattoo was done for a woman who had breast cancer! Facebook keeps removing the post in 24 hours as an offensive photo do to nudity. However we feel this woman is both brave and strong so were going to post it anyways and ask for your awareness and support; Please like and share this photo quickly to show your support for this and many other women who have lost so much. (Kind comments are welcome ) thanks!" the group writes.

The image quickly went viral. So far, the photo has been "liked" more than 170,000 times, and shared more than 137,000 times.

"Anyone who thinks this is offensive is not in their right minds as far as I'm concerned. A most wonderful and creative example of turning tragedy into beauty," one commenter writes.

The now-famous tattoo is sported by cancer survivor Inga Duncan Thornell.

"This tattoo was a collaboration between Tina Bafaro, the tattooist, and me to cover the scars from a bilateral mastectomy. It took one Sunday a month over two and a half years to complete," she writes on her personal blog.

The viral photo was originally taken to be part of the book Bodies Of Subversion: A Secret History Of Women And Tattoo.

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Both Thornell and Bafaro were featured in an MSNBC documentary about tattooed women in 2001.

And while the feedback was overwhelmingly positive then, Thornell writes that the newfound attention to her tattoo has created an even greater response the second time around.

"We were at lunch with friends last week and one of them mentioned getting the pictures sent to him by a friend. Another friend from my knitting group got pics emailed to her from a friend in Australia and the tattoos were also featured on the Bob Rivers’ Show Facebook page with 10,870 likes, 7,923 shares and 1,028 comments, most of which weren’t from weirdos. I am not sure why the buzz goes in waves like this but if it helps more women to feel better about their bodies, then I will try to keep my blushes to myself."

With the outpouring of support, it appears that Facebook has received the "leave the tattoo alone" message.

"It seems that the backlash has ultimately persuaded Facebook to let the photo be, as it appears to have been left up unmolested for the past several days," writes Gawker's Neetzan Zimmerman. 

Watch the video below discussing whether a mastectomy is always best for early breast cancer patients. 

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