A nursery teacher who battled self harming says Facebook knocked her confidence after censoring her ’empowering’ recovery photo – because it showed her scars.
Nadine Goranova posted a picture of herself in a halter neck top last week to prove she had grown to love herself despite the visible scars on her arms.
The 23-year-old says she was overwhelmed by positive comments on the image, but the next morning discovered the photo had been covered with a warning, which read: ‘this photo may be sensitive to some people’.
Nadine says the platform’s decision to add the alert to her picture has damaged her confidence and caused her to take ‘two steps backwards’, as she had hoped that by sharing her photo it would help others be more open and accepting about their bodies and mental health struggles.
However, Facebook has defended its decision and claimed the policy was made after taking expert advice to prevent people ‘seeing content that they might find distressing’.
This story discusses self-harm.
‘Because self-harm is self-inflicted, people think it’s your fault, you should live with it. It needs a lot of work and people need to see it more and understand it,’ said Nadine, who’s from Kensington, London.
‘As cliché as it sounds, why are we still judging a book by its cover? Did Facebook even read the post or comments, or just think “let’s get rid of that”?
‘This has made me question myself,’ she added.
Recalling the moment she saw the warning on the picture, Nadine said, ‘I saw where you click “I want to see this image” at the bottom, expecting it to be something horrible – but then it was me.
‘It really is censored. [It suggests] I could make people upset, but if anything, the comments are [people being] upset at Facebook.’
Nadine said she’s since received many messages of support, even from strangers.
‘It was heart-warming and that’s what has made me not feel low and depressed about it.
‘This could 100% knock someone’s confidence. It’s baby steps. I took one step by posting that then two steps backwards because Facebook rejected me and threw it back in my face.’
It was only last year that Nadine felt confident enough to start wearing short sleeved tops – but said she still faces unwanted questions from strangers when her scars are on show.
‘I was just deemed the freak of my secondary school. I went to an all-girl’s school and they were pretty lethal and b**chy,’ she explained.
‘[Self harm is] still a taboo subject now, but back then it was even worse. They just couldn’t get their heads around it.
‘I’ve been suffering with depression and anxiety since I was 12. It took a long time for my own family to understand it and not be embarrassed by my own scars.’
Nadine said that when she was a teenager, people just thought she was experiencing normal mood swings.
‘It’s so frustrating because you know how you feel and that it can’t be normal,’ she recalled.
‘Still, I go out to the shops in summer with my arms out to buy a loaf of bread and the person serving me will say “what’s that on your arm? Did you get into an accident?”.
‘I’m like, “I’ve never spoken to you in my life”. Some people really don’t have a filter I suppose.
‘I want to be there for people who are going through it or have been. You think you’re the only one.’
But discovering that her photo had been filtered on Facebook was a blow to Nadine’s self-esteem.
‘When I saw the comments, I realised it is wrong. It’s time to do something about it,’ she said.
‘My message to people who are struggling to come to terms with their scars is no one else can help you until you’re ready.
‘People can tell you whatever they like – if you’re not ready, no one can help you.
‘If you’re looking at your scars and thinking “they’re so ugly and never going away”, choose the people around you wisely and they’ll back you all the way.
‘It does get better. It’s taken some time, years and years, but now people are starting to be more open and accepting.
‘With [Facebook adding a filter], they’re making it a lot more likely [that people will] send abusive comments.
‘People will be more likely to view it because curiosity is human nature.’
The social media giant announced stricter rules surrounding issues involving suicide and self harm in September 2019.
Their global head of safety, Antigone Davis, said at the time: ‘We tightened our policy around self-harm to no longer allow graphic cutting images to avoid unintentionally promoting or triggering self-harm, even when someone is seeking support or expressing themselves to aid their recovery.’
A Facebook spokesperson said: ‘Mental health is complex and affects people in different ways.
‘We work closely with academics and organisations like the Samaritans to help find a balance between allowing people to share their experiences, while also protecting the most vulnerable.
‘Based on this expert advice, we expanded our policies to avoid people seeing content that they might find distressing, including adding a sensitivity screen to certain content like images of healed scars.’
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