Photographer's Message To Facebook: 'Stop Censoring Birth'

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 

Facebook censors yet another birth photo

Yet another birth photo was censored by Facebook for “violating standards of nudity.” The photographer who shared it is fed up — and she should be. There is nothing sexual or pornographic about birth. Presumably, if people are following the page of a birth photographer, they should not be shocked by these images.

Photographer Morag Hastings has experienced this before: this makes the fifth time Facebook has taken down one of her photos. This time, they also threatened to unpublished her business page, Apple Blossom Families, too. She faced a 30 day ban, which means she can see everything on her business page, but is locked out of interacting. “It is very frustrating from a business point of view. Plus I have all of these strikes against my account even though all of my bans were for images that were within the guidelines,” Hastings tells Scary Mommy. “Since the bans get longer and longer the more times it happens it makes me fearful to post content that may or may not get me banned in the future.”

“When Facebook removes birth images that are within Facebook’s nudity guidelines it basically says birth is gross and you shouldn’t look at these images or share these images,” Hastings says. “It shames people for wanting to celebrate a very normal life function. It also takes away the ability for people to get to see these important images.”

Here is the image that caused such a stir:

You can see the whole amazing portfolio of this birth on Hastings’ blog, Apple Blossom Families.

If someone is following a birth photographer, clearly these are images they want to see. They could be expectant moms, looking for some comfort by preparing themselves for what they are about to experience. Birth can be scary — it’s comforting to see what’s in store for you. “Seeing a person giving birth standing up or catching their own baby can really open one’s eye to the options they might have,” says Hastings. “Often people don’t know these are options they can have during their birth. This is one way that humans learn.”

Facebook’s moderators respond to images that are flagged — so clearly this issue started from a user being offended in some way by this image. But if a user follows a birth photographer, they shouldn’t be able to flag images of birth. That’s just ridiculous. The family who agreed to share their story is left to feel like they’ve done something “wrong” — and that’s not okay.

“I spent my entire pregnancy, and especially the last few weeks, looking at birth photos, watching birth videos, and reading birth stories,” the mother in the image (who wishes to remain unnamed) told Scary Mommy. “I would cry through them all, overcome by a mix of emotions: fear, what-ifs, anticipation, excitement. When I thought I couldn’t possibly do it, those images and stories helped me believe I could.”

“We shared our photos and story with the belief that if we inspired or empowered even one person that it would be worth it. Unfortunately, when our photo was censored, the message was sent that we had done something wrong.”

“I would like to see Facebook change it’s policies around nudity,” Hastings says. “They either need to include language in their guidelines about what is appropriate with birth images and they need to educate their staff to understand human anatomy, so they don’t automatically think that a birth image has genitalia.”

“People come to my page to get comfortable with the idea of giving birth because there is not many places they can connect with what the birth process is like. Seeing real people giving birth helps people learn what birth is like and what their options are.” This is so true. Birth is scary for a lot of us, and many women take comfort in being able to prepare themselves in whatever way they can. For some, it’s looking at images just like these. These images are joyous and empowering — they show how truly amazing the female body is. WE MAKE HUMANS, DAMMIT. We should not ever be made to feel ashamed for that.

“I had no idea the photo would cause such a stir, but I’m glad that it’s bringing awareness to the ways that women and birth are censored and shamed,” says the mom in the photo. “It hasn’t been easy going through this experience being a new mom with a new baby during a tender time. Perhaps if we were exposed to birth and more accepting of it, that wouldn’t be the case.”

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