Two “frustrated” areola tattoo artists who help breast cancer patients “claim back their life” are now fighting back against social media platforms which remove photos and block their accounts.
Guildford -based Sophia Wyatt dedicates her time to offering life-changing tattoo treatments to people suffering with hair loss and also offers post-mastectomy areola tattoos.
The 45-year-old is no stranger to campaigning and adversity. She lost both legs after contracting meningitis aged 16 and campaigned tirelessly for the Meningitis Now charity, to produce their life-saving vaccine.
Sophia has now teamed up with medical tattooist Vicky Martin, founder of the World Medical Artists platform, and the pair are petitioning over the freedom to post pictures of their treatments on Facebook.
The aim of the campaign is for medical tattoo artists and breast cancer survivors to be allowed to freely post images without being blocked, and subsequently “losing their social media account for days on end”.
For its part, Facebook claims it supports such posts and that its AI mistakes them for inappropriate nudity.
The duo want to be able to use their images across Facebook and Instagram to show breast cancer patients that they are on hand to help.
On September 1, Sophia, Vicky and fellow members of the World Medical Artists are making a stand by coming together for an event outside the Facebook headquarters in London. Sophia will be donning a “giant inflatable boob” on the day.
“We are so tired of fighting social media platforms for our life-changing work to be seen,” said Sophia. “If we post photos of our work to inform people recovering from cancer such treatments are available, our posts are instantly blocked – and sometimes our business social accounts are even banned.
“We appeal and then are told our work is considered pornographic. Once I posted a photo of a silicone practice sheet and Facebook told me it was advertising a sex toy.”
SurreyLive contacted Facebook for a statement.
A spokesperson said: “We allow posts showing areola tattoos on Facebook, and we applaud the incredible work this community does to support those who have had breast cancer surgery.
“These tattoos can look incredibly realistic, so our AI technology sometimes removes them by mistake.”
However, Sophia claims the issue has not yet been resolved and she feels like she is just “going round in circles”. She says Facebook has reinstated accounts after they were suspended but it keeps happening.
‘A platform for all artists to be seen and heard’
Sophia, who also founded charity Kicks Count after the stillbirth of daughter Chloe, spent 20 years working in film and TV makeup before training in permanent treatments.
“With my background and having been ill in the past, I wanted to give something back, I know how it feels to not like what you see in the mirror,” she told SurreyLive.
“Permanent makeup can offer solutions to a variety of clients, from cancer patients and women going through the menopause to those who have experienced trauma.
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“My mum was diagnosed with cancer, so this is something close to my heart. We are simply trying to help rebuild people’s lives.”
She added: “I hope Facebook will join us on September 1 for a celebration but if they keep ignoring us, it will be a protest. We don’t want any aggression, we just want to raise awareness.”
This will be Vicky’s second campaign for the cause, having first raised awareness a few years ago.
She created the World Medical Artists platform for all artists to be “seen and heard”.
“For so long, I have been hearing breast cancer survivors and artists’ frustrations and concerns with social media platforms blocking and removing posts and accounts,” she said. “The frustration lies with artists being unable to show the world how incredible you can look after breast cancer.”
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