Skip To Content

    Instagram Caused An Outrage After Deleting A Post-Mastectomy Tattoo Account

    It has since been restored, but the woman behind the account is speaking out. Note: this post contains photos of breasts.

    On Nov. 14, Instagram deleted the Pink Ink Fund account, a non-profit which supports women seeking post-mastectomy restorative tattoos.

    Courtesy of Amy Black

    "I was very careful and always noted with text on the picture, comments, and hashtags that this was a breast cancer survivor or a mastectomy tattoo," Amy Black, who runs the account, told BuzzFeed Life in an interview.

    She said her only complaint was last October, when Instagram removed one of her photos.

    Black, a 40-year-old tattoo artist who frequently tattoos women post-mastectomy, responded by reporting the deactivation as a mistake and filing a report.

    She said Instagram replied via email on Nov. 17 stating they would not reactive her account because it contained "sexually suggestive" content and nudity.

    "It was like a sucker punch — I felt completely helpless," Black said of her account's deactivation.

    Instagram: @pinkinkfund

    "Maybe they were just scrolling through accounts and saw what they perceived as natural, nude breasts without reading anything," Black says. However, she said she's most bothered by Instagram's stance on what is and isn't acceptable to share.

    "They tout themselves as a cool social platform that engages in strong and healthy community guidelines, yet they delete a cancer charity account vs. letting soft porn and highly sexualized material still exist," she told BuzzFeed Life.

    The Richmond, Virginia, resident has been doing post-mastectomy tattoos since she was approached by a breast cancer survivor in 2010.

    Courtesy of Amy Black

    "I just felt so lucky to help one woman, and wanted to do more," Black says. Since then, Black says she has partnered with plastic surgeons across the state and in Washington, D.C., to provide restorative and reconstructive tattoos to breast cancer survivors and people who had preventative mastectomies. She would display her work on Instagram.

    So she started the Pink Ink Fund, a non-profit which provides financial assistance, outreach, and education to those seeking post-mastectomy tattoos.

    Instagram: @pinkinkfund / Via

    "I realized that many woman didn't get the tattoos covered by health insurance — whether it was medicaid, or often military — and couldn't afford the tattoo and travel costs," Black says.

    Initially Black was discounting these services, but she wanted to create an organization that could officially collect donations.

    "It was a one woman show and took years to finally gain 501(c)3 status last fall," she said.

    The Pink Ink Fund account also serves as an inspirational gallery for women and plastic surgeons to explore post-mastectomy tattooing options.

    Courtesy of Amy Black
    Courtesy of Amy Black

    Black said she was hesitant to post photos of her work until 2014, when Facebook lifted its ban on breastfeeding photos.

    The account now includes Black's own art, work by other post-mastectomy tattoo artists, as well as candid stories from survivors.

    "Many survivors feel very isolated, so this allows them to connect with other women over the emotional aspects of recovery and find inspiration for tattoos from the comfort of their home," she explained.

    The account shuttering caused an outcry among Black's followers, who took to Twitter to show their support, including Orange is the New Black actor Jessica Pimentel.

    Earlier today, Instagram re-activated The Pink Fund's Instagram account and apologized for the "error."

    "We wrongly removed this account and immediately worked to fix the error as soon as we learned of it. We are very sorry for the mistake," an Instagram spokesperson told BuzzFeed Life.

    Black hopes the outcry gives Instagram pause on which accounts should constitute nudity.

    "Even though they reactivated my account, I hope speaking out about it will hopefully stop Instagram from doing this again and make them change their standards," Black says.

    For now, she hopes to spread awareness of the Pink Ink Fund and continue to provide a resource for those in need.

    "The most important thing is spreading awareness of the non-profit. Since the beginning I've had the hope that we can help anyone anywhere to receive, learn more, and connect to others about their options for mastectomy tattoos," she said.

    Want to be the first to see product recommendations, style hacks, and beauty trends? Sign up for our As/Is newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form