Do you find this photo offensive? Probably not, even when you realize that this colorful fashion statement is, in fact, a tattoo. The image recently went viral when it was removed by Facebook due to "offensive nudity." Other post-mastectomy photos of women, with and without custom tattoos, were also removed. Facebook relented when members voiced their outrage and Scorchy Barrington, a woman with stage IV breast cancer, gathered more than 20,000 signatures to demand that the social site stop censoring members' mastectomy photos.
Beyond the issue of Facebook's policy, the brouhaha brings up several important points. First, our bodies are our own, to do with as we please. While many women are comfortable with their mastectomy scars, others (whether or not they have breast reconstruction) would love not to have such visible reminders of their lost breasts. Among women who have breast reconstruction, most opt for new nipples and tattoos (right) for a realistic finish to the process. Others prefer not to have nipples or don't feel the need for any type of tattoo, traditional or otherwise.
These days, creative tattoos are an accepted part of our social culture, but like joint bank accounts, pointy shoes and expensive cars, they aren't for everyone. They are, however, one way to celebrate, decorate or camoflauge mastectomy scars whether or not you have reconstructed breasts. And seeing photos like these helps women to know what's available to them.
And that's the great thing about choice: if a tattoo appeals to you, go for it. If not, don't. Do some research if you feel creative: the possibilities are endless.