Facebook Bans Photo Featuring Plus-Size Model For Being ‘Undesirable'

The social media network initially rejected an advertisement featuring plus-size model Tess Holliday in a bikini for being “extremely undesirable.”

Tess Holliday drinking through straw

Facebook has apologized for initially banning an advertisement featuring plus-size model Tess Holliday in a bikini, citing the photo violated its health and fitness guidelines.

Australian feminist talkshow Cherchez la Femme tried to promote their body-positive event, Feminism and Fat, with an image of Holliday in a high-waisted black and white bikini. Yet the social media networking site rejected the post, writing the “image depicted a body or body parts in an undesirable manner.”

“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 author of the post, Jessamy Gleeson, lashed out at Facebook for ludicrously suggesting the image of Holliday would make women feel worse about their bodies.

“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,” Gleeson wrote. “We're raging pretty hard over here - both because Facebook seemingly has no idea that plus sized, self describing fat women can feel great about themselves.”

The feminist talkshow even took Facebook's advice and audaciously posted a photo of someone riding a bike

The social media giant apologized for their error on Monday, noting they have reversed their decision. 

“Our team processes millions of advertising images each week, and in some instances we incorrectly prohibit ads,” the statement read. “This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologize for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ad.”

Gleeson spoke with Carbonated.TV about the larger implications Facebook’s immediate rejection denotes for society and the representation of women.

“There is a huge double standard at play when it comes to Facebook approving images of more ‘traditionally acceptable’ women when compared to other body shapes and sizes (just think of all the ads featuring models in bikinis). We did exactly the same thing, except with a plus size model - and the ad was banned,” Gleeson told Carbonated.TV.

“It's incredibly important that women see a variety of other women's sizes in the media, and Facebook plays a role in this,” she added. “It shouldn't take international media attention for them to reconsider their initial decision, and their attitude is indicative of wider attitudes in society related to the policing of women's bodies.”

Facebook and Instagram paints a clear dichotomy for the women’s movement.  Social media has strengthened feminism worldwide by connecting activists but also remains disempowering by stifling our bodies. Whether objecting to body hair, menstruation or refusing to free the nipple, social sharing sites have made it more difficult for women to feel comfortable in their own skin.

Banner image credit: Facebook, Cherchez la Femme

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