Facebook bans photographer for posting photos of nude models with mannequin

A photographer whose work portrays the bodies of women "who don't want to fit the mold" says she is "floored" after being temporarily banned by Facebook — again.

Julia Busato, a Guelph, Ont.-based photographer started the series last year, taking photos of naked models posed behind a mannequin figure. 

There's no explicit nudity  — that's hidden behind the mannequin or digitally obscured — but she says some of the photos have been reported and removed from her Facebook album, earning her a 30-day ban on the site which began late last week.

That's when things really took off — people started sharing the album (now more than 200,000 times) and her Facebook page has gained more than 50,000 new followers. Under the ban she can log in and look around but she can't post or reply to anything.

"I'm freaking out. I've been shaking since this morning. It's hard to breathe," she says. "It's just been mayhem."

It's not the first time Busato has been banned from the site, and that ticks her off.

"I'm totally floored by it. I'm frustrated. They don't justify why they do it."

Her photos mostly feature women, but she has also photographed some men for the series. Busato said Facebook told her some of the reported photos violated their standards for nudity.

Facebook Canada told CBC News that Busato had posted pictures which broke their nudity guidelines but didn't clarify which ones. The remaining photos appear to fit within what Facebook allows nudity-wise. However, Busato said she never posted any with straight-up nudity.

'It hurts'

All this attention has been bittersweet for Busato. Many have been supportive. But there have been hateful messages hurled at the models too, digging at their weight, their lifestyle and even little details, like their hair.

Busato feels guilty that she put her models "in harm's way more or less."

"The hate is jetted towards them," she said. "It hurts. They are just attacking these girls for no particular reason."

Adina Ingram is a plus-sized trainer who posed for the series. She says she has been getting comments about her "mid-section" and people calling her lazy. She said reading them the past few days has been tough.

"I've been doing this for a while. I've been growing a bit of thick skin," Ingram admitted. "I've had do a lot of soul searching and a lot of mental work … your opinion of me is none of my business."

'Bring it on'

Ingram posed for the photo last year after turning 40 and breaking up with her husband of 21 years. She was nervous and apprehensive at first but said it was one of the best things she's done. 

Her photo was one of those that was reported and removed from the album, but it has since returned. Ingram figures the photo may have made someone uncomfortable — something she is not sorry about.

"We're choosing not to follow whatever society's standards is."

Since the album went viral, Ingram has had to explain the situation to her 11-year-old daughter, which she said was a difficult thing to do.

"The biggest step for me has been finding a voice and a confidence to share my voice with my friends and family." She hopes that one day, she and her daughter will be able to pose in a similar photo, together.

Busato has a 16-year-old daughter who is eager to do the same thing. "This is the way we should be raising our kids. It's nudity. It's not sexuality."

Busato said the negative comments have helped push the project even further. And for her, the Facebook ban is just a small setback — she says people have been reaching out eager to have their own photo taken and added to the series.

"Bring it on… it's not stopping me," she jokes. "I just want everybody to all feel good about themselves."