Facebook apologizes for banning an ad with a size 22 model for being an “undesirable” depiction

No ‘likes’ for you.
No ‘likes’ for you.
Image: Reuters/Beck Diefenbach
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Facebook has found itself in a bit of a situation. The company has apologized after banning an ad from a Melbourne-based feminist talkshow, Cherchez la Femme, claiming it violated a policy blocking ads that make people feel badly about their bodies. The ad features Tess Holliday, a well-known model who is a size 22, promoting an upcoming show about body positivity and “fat acceptance.”

Cherchez la Femme was trying to boost its event page for the show, which includes a banner image showing Holliday in a bikini. The group claims Facebook wouldn’t allow the ad, saying it “depicts a body or body parts in an undesirable manner.”

Cherchez La Femme's ad with Tess Holliday
Does this make you feel badly about your body?
Image: Cherchez La Femme's Facebook page

It posted an image it says is the letter it received from Facebook, addressed to the group’s co-producer, Jessamy Gleeson, stating ads “may not depict a state of health or body weight as being perfect or extremely undesirable.” It followed with a list of imagery that was not acceptable, including “Close-ups of ‘muffin tops’ where the overhanging fat is visible” and “People pinching their fat/cellulite.”

In the comments to the post, people quickly attacked what they saw as a double standard and body shaming by Facebook.

“A woman’s real life body is banned, but photoshopped, impossible to obtain bodies are cool with Facebook?” one commenter wrote. “I wonder if it were a male body, what their response would have been?”

Another stated: “How do we complain? I feel absolutely terrible now because I’m about the same size. Do we really look so repulsive that our images need to be censored?”

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