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tess holliday
via Facebook (Cherchez La Femme)

Facebook apologises for banning plus size model ad

The advert for a feminist panel event featured model Tess Holliday in a bikini, which FB originally said depicted “body parts in an undesirable manner”

Facebook has apologised for banning an ad that contained an image of a plus-size model and for telling a feminist group that it depicted “body parts in an undesirable manner”.

The advertisement was fronted by model Tess Holliday in a bikini. Australian feminist group Cherchez la Femme, which runs a regular talk show and events with an “unapologetically feminist angle”, initially wanted to promote the advert for a ‘Feminism and Fat’ panel discussion. Facebook then banned the image because it apparently didn’t comply with Health and Fitness Policy and “ad guidelines”.

While the advert was allowed to stay on the event page, the social platform refused to approve the ad, which would have boosted its digital visibility, giving it more reach.

Cherchez la Femme then appealed against Facebook’s decision, to which the social media giant responded: “Ads may not depict a state of health or body weight as being perfect or extremely undesirable,” Facebook wrote. “Ads like these are not allowed since they make viewers feel bad about themselves. Instead, we recommend using an image of a relevant activity, such as running or riding a bike.”

The group took to their FB page to call out the body shaming actions.

“Facebook has ignored the fact that our event is going to be discussing body positivity (which comes in all shapes and sizes, but in the particular case of our event, fat bodies), and has instead come to the conclusion that we’ve set out to make women feel bad about themselves by posting an image of a wonderful plus sized woman,” the group said in Facebook post. “We’re raging pretty hard over here.”

A statement from Facebook was then released to rectify what they acknowledged as a mistake. It read: “Our team processes millions of advertising images each week, and in some instances we incorrectly prohibit ads. This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologise for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ad.”

Jessamy Gleeson, a member of the feminist group, told the Guardian that they wouldn’t be satisfied with the apology until its policies surrounding women’s bodies were addressed.

“Quite simply they need to understand we can use images of fat women to promote women being happy,” she observed. “What about all the cases that don’t receive this media attention? They’ve been wrong in many other thousands of cases, I’m sure.”