Kelly Forshaw Smith, trained in semi-permanent make-up artist and medical micropigmentation - a form of tattooing - and other Sussex-based specialists are dressing up as inflatable breasts to show the social media giant they have a voice.
This comes after platforms like Facebook and Instagram banning their content as pictures of areolas and nipples are classed as ‘sexual content and nudity’ which goes against their community guidelines.
These specialists treat men and women who require areola and nipple restoration after having breast surgery.
Kelly, who has won medical micropigmentation artist four years running, has over 15 years of experience and has treated more than 8,000 men and women. She said: “I love to see the difference it makes to people with breast cancer post mastectomy.
“It is an art form that I have worked very hard to perfect and deliver to my amazing patients.
“I feel that by not fighting this cause I am letting my breast cancer warrior clients down and I do not want that to happen.
“I have been banned from Facebook and Instagram countless times over the years, ranging from just having the image removed to not being able to post for over a week.”
Kelly, who has a home clinic in Brighton Road, Worthing, has tried to overturn the ban by getting her clients to post short video testimonials explaining how this treatment makes them feel after their recovery, and how it positively affects their mental health, but they haven’t worked. Kelly added: “I disagree with Facebook’s banning of the images as it does say that posts about breast cancer are allowed but they instantly get taken down as they are mistaken for sexual content.
“I feel it is difficult for individuals in this business, especially my students who are new to the industry.
“To some patients, the treatment signifies the end of their breast cancer journey.
“Facebook and Instagram are limiting the awareness of the service available to post breast cancer patients.”
Kelly teaches others her areola micropigmentation methods at Finishing Touches Group, in Bridge Road, Haywards Heath.
These potentially life-changing procedures are all free of charge on Finishing Touches Group’s model programme.
Taania Wood, who has been trained at Finishing Touches Group as an areola micropigmentation artist, said: “As a relative newcomer to the micropigmentation industry, I rely on the use of social media to help me not only spread the word about my business, but also to increase awareness of the existence of the sometimes life-changing treatments I offer.
“The problem is that although Facebook and Instagram community guidelines claim to allow post-mastectomy images, in reality their platforms are not set up to green-flag our posts and allow them to be published, resulting in our posts being blocked and our accounts being suspended for long periods of time (or even closed altogether).
“As a new business just trying to get back on my feet after almost a year of closure due to the pandemic, I cannot afford to risk this happening to my accounts.”
Kelly, Taania, and other nipple artists hope to persuade Facebook and Instagram to make a simple change that will be ‘immensely beneficial’ to their industry and to breast cancer patients everywhere.
Kelly asked if people cannot attend the event in September, to post on social media instead. She said: “If people cannot come, please buy T-shirts and blow up boobs and post pictures on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, with the hashtag #WMA2021 and tag Finishing Touches Group at 12:30pm.
“We want to raise as much awareness as possible and get #WMA2021 trending.”