Photos Deemed "Obscene"

A moderator of a breastfeeding support page on Facebook is challenging their policy that deems photographs of mothers nursing their babies to be obscene. We explore the issue and talk to real moms about nursing photos.

Breastfeeding and Facebook

A breastfeeding support page, called Respect the Breast, has recently come to find itself under the watchful eye of the Facebook policy that says it prohibits photos that are "hateful, threatening, defamatory, or pornographic" or "contain nudity." Photos of nursing infants have been deleted based on this policy and the moderators of the page want to know why. They have a beef with Facebook because fan pages of public figures such as porn star Jenna Jameson show a heck of a lot more boob, and in a sexual context to boot.

Respect the Breast

Heather Stultz, one of the moderators of Respect the Breast, feels her page was singled out when the photos were flagged as obscene. "I feel as if we are being targeted," she shared with SheKnows. "Cece [another moderator] and I have done research on and have found over 100 sites that contain pornographic or sexual material. Their pages haven't been disabled nor have their pictures been removed as ours have."

She is puzzled because the pictures in question are not sexual in nature at all, yet Facebook leaves pages such as Playboy alone, even though there is more breast exposure on the photos they share.

"If you look up the definition of porn it says it is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction," said Heather. "And nudity (when breasts are considered) is when the nipple is exposed. With that in mind, I see nothing wrong with what we are posting."

How much is too much?

We asked a few moms if they felt breastfeeding photographs should be considered obscene. Debbie from Wisconsin said, "No. I think it is beautiful. Before they had bottles and formula do you think people had this debate?" Ashley, mother of two, agreed completely. "I think it is natural and beautiful, there is nothing obscene about it!"

"I think it is natural and beautiful, there is nothing obscene about it!"

Danielle, mother of two from the Bahamas, also had this to say on the contradictory nature of the Facebook policy: "As for breastfeeding pics on Facebook -- they're not even near [to being] obscene compared to a lot of other pictures allowed on Facebook!"

Charlene from New York agreed that the photos are not obscene but she did wonder about posting such photos on Facebook. "I think they are so personal and I have no idea why anyone would even want to put a picture out there like that," she said. "I can see having them for yourself but why would you want to share that with anyone? I still see boobs as sexual. Even if we want to say that they aren't sexual, in reality they are in this society, which is why I think they are such personal pictures."

Rachel, mother of one from Ohio, says that breastfeeding will become a normal thing again in our society only if more women breastfeed in public. "Breastfeeding wouldn't be such a taboo if more people were exposed to it," she stated. "Many children aren't even aware that babies eat from anything other than bottles!"

Looking to the future

Heather, from Respect the Breast, has a goal in mind. "We want women from all walks of life to be able to share these precious moments with other mothers and get positive feedback instead of being looked down upon," she shared. "Most women learn by picture context; they can see the amazing bond that that mother and child have and hopefully want to have that for themselves."

More on breastfeeding

Breastfeeding in public: taboo or not?
Why you should breastfeed your toddler
Is breastfeeding in public still unacceptable?


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Comments on "Breastfeeding support page on Facebook under fire"

Marie Smith "Banned for Breastfeeding" January 08, 2012 | 11:21 AM

My facebook profile was disabled last week after I posted pictures of me breastfeeding. I was surprised after I received a warning that my profile picture, which was just a portion of my breast and a portion of my child's face were in violation of the TOU. In response, I posted a public album with 5 of my personal breastfeeding photos and some artwork from over the centuries. My profile was disabled that night. After 2 emails, the "facebook team" refuses to re-activate my account. I guess I could create another facebook account with a different email, but personally I don't feel facebook deserves me. So, I am boycotting facebook for banning my breastfeeding.

shelby January 01, 2012 | 10:04 PM

Ok we get the picture before there were bottles women breast fed but they werent trying to flaunt it. i think these women just want attention just like that flash mob did in the mall. ok breast feed your new born or infant but when they are one and two years old and youre breast feed them in public is rude and in my opinion nasty. why cant they drink out a sippy cup or bottle. Im sorry no one wants to see you breast feeding on facebook breast feed all you want but keep it off facebook. it may be beautiful to you but have class, and if you choose to do it in the mall please throw a blanket over yourself there are kids in the mall that dont need to see a strangers breast with a baby or kid sucking on it

Lareina Reyes December 31, 2011 | 8:01 AM

You know, its ignorance that fosters intolerance. And ignorant people, unfortunately, run the world. Up here in Chico, CALIF, we had an idiotic Manager at Marie Callenders throw a table of three breastfeeding women and their hungry babies OUT OF THE RESTAURANT. Because one grouchy old coot thought it was gross to watch and unsanitary, A decent manager would have relocated the grouch or the other table of discreet women who were breastfeeding under blankets, but no. He instead caused a ruckus. The women left in tears. I left in DISGUST. But not before in out the idiot manager. I have not eaten there since.

Uncle Rhea December 30, 2011 | 7:46 PM

I think it's crazy that Facebook would allow a couple to post multiple photos of them abusing their children with duct tape but hanging them upside down, but disallow photos of women breast feeding .

Cynthia December 30, 2011 | 2:02 PM

It has less to do with facebook's policy/moderators and more to do with people reporting the photo. People who feel differently troll these pages and groups intentionally to report the photos as obscene. Once a photo is reported enough, they rip it down regardless.

Amaryllis December 30, 2011 | 10:21 AM

Facebook prohibits pictures that show exposure of the nipple or areola of the breast. Doesn't matter the purpose: titillation or breastfeeding. I don't see why this should be a problem for breastfeeding support groups. It's not like the prohibition isn't applied evenly. If FB gets a complaint of a picture in violation of company rules it is removed. End of story.

Lori December 30, 2011 | 8:30 AM

First, I'd like to say thank you to the breastfeeding support pages on facebook, without the support I've received from other Mom's feeding my daughter would have been a much more frustrating thing! Second, I'd like to address a question asked by a Mom in the article. She asked why anyone would want to post nursing photos on facebook. I have posted a few on a support page I use because I am a larger woman and it is helpful for other larger Moms to see that we can nurse, nurse in public and nurse comfortably with out too much belly or boob visable! If you are the only breastfeeding Mom you know, online photos of other nursing duos or trios can be a very valuable resource!

Emily December 29, 2011 | 9:43 PM

Those moderators take things too far sometimes, and don't really think about why the rules are in place before they prance around enforcing them :/ Breastfeeding is natural and beautiful! I find it so bizarre for people to view it as "obscene".

carissa December 29, 2011 | 2:44 PM

I have the privilege to be an admin on this awesome page 'respect the breast' I love heather & cece two great women helping fight for us breast feeding women!

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