Some brilliant news, with social media platforms making changes to their clumsy censorship policies, now allowing images of childbirth to be shared without fear of deletion or other punitive measures.
Previously, the social media outlets seemed to categorise birth and breastfeeding images as inappropriate and offensive imagery. A passionate campaign led by Los Angeles-based nurse and doula, Katie Vigos sought to change this. Katie’s initiative resulted in over 23 000 signatures on a petition aiming to budge the ban on birth photos.
Amongst the petition’s recommendations were calls to: recategorise all birth-related content as educational material, in its own unique category if necessary; and allow our community to post graphic images of physiological birth with the images blurred or greyed out, so users can tap to see the images and choose whether to view them.
And – amazingly – Instagram listened! The platform says it’s now aiming to make a distinction between photos showing motherhood in all its glory and images of sexualised nudity – and sister company Facebook have followed suit.
It’s been a minute since I’ve shared a submission photo from #IGallowuncensoredbirth petition (which is still going strong!). The following is shared with permission by @mamasaurusssrex ✨ __ “These photos are of my birth with my daughter, she was born on 09/14/17 at 3:58pm, she was born at 40+1, “technically” labor had begun at 40 weeks with a slow leak but I wasn’t about to run to the hospital so I stayed put at home, woke up the next day around 8am, contractions started around 9 and picked up super fast, I ended up heading to my doctors office around noon to be told I was 6cm and to head on over to the hospital (luckily it was just across the street), i basically started pushing as soon as I got to the L&D room and Eloise Josephine was born after about 3 hours of pushing! The whole thing was such a whirlwind!” __ #physiologicalbirth #uncensoredbirth #hospitalbirth #empoweredbirthproject
“Educational and celebratory”
Instagram spoke to parenting site Motherly about the changes that are afoot, explaining their “nudity policy is evolving to allow for photos and videos of childbirth.”“Over the past several months we have worked with birthing advocates and women’s health experts to help craft this policy update that we believe better categorizes birthing imagery as educational and celebratory,” an Instagram rep said.
A hard-fought victoryChange-maker Katie expressed her delight, updating her fellow campaigners and petition-signers with the big news that promises to revolutionise the way society views childbirth.“Thanks to our collective efforts, Instagram AND Facebook have changed their policies to allow uncensored childbirth,” Katie wrote on Change.org.
It’s been a long road for Katie, with a brilliant, hard-won result. Her Instagram account – Empowered Birth Project – has been sharing birth images (with mothers’ permission) since 2013, in a quest to educate, normalise and celebrate childbirth and women. She’d been battling the platform ever since, as they removed images they said violated the company’s community guidelines, almost as quickly as she could post them.
“A really damaging message”
It’s a pattern that will be familiar to many other birth photographers and women who sought to celebrate these transformative – and completely normal – moments in a woman’s life.
“Birth is a moment of ultimate power and surrender for women,” Katie told Harper’s Bazaar. “Telling women that that power is offensive and needs to be hidden is sending a really damaging message.”
Here’s hoping that the process that ensures these images are allowed on Facebook and Instagram is refined quickly and effectively.
“We have literally changed the world,” a jubilant Katie said. “There is strength in numbers; we did it!”
Want to help declassify birth as offensive material and support the birth community to have the same content-sharing privileges the medical community currently enjoys? Here’s what to do throughout the #IGallowuncensoredbirth campaign: __ 1. SIGN the petition via the link in my bio, or type bit.ly/allowuncensoredbirth into your browser __ 2. SHARE the petition (and any of my posts) everywhere! We need it go viral and be picked up by media outlets __ 3. LIKE every photo posted for the campaign. This tells instagram’s algorithm to make the posts visible to more users. __ 4. Leave @instagram @nickyjcolaco a respectful comment telling them why you think birth does not belong in the same category as violence, pornography, etc. Tell them how you feel about this! __ 5. Send me your favorite uncensored birth photos via DM or email, if you have any __ THANK YOU everyone! We’re almost at 10,000 signatures! This policy change is long overdue. We can accomplish it together. 💓 __ Love, @katievigos __ #IGallowuncensoredbirth #empoweredbirthproject __ Photo via @krista.evans.photography
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