Saying it would make people “feel bad” about themselves, Facebook banned an image of a plus size model in an advert that was all about body positivity, saying it was “body-shaming.”
The photo, featuring plus-sized model Tess Holliday in a bikini, was used in a Facebook ad to promote an event to be hosted by Cherchez La Femme in Australia, called “Feminism and Fat.”
— Scarlett Harris (@ScarlettEHarris) May 20, 2016
Facebook initially banned it, telling Cherchez La Femme the ad was rejected due to the fact that “the image depicts a body or body part in an undesirable manner” and that the photo violates the company’s “health and fitness” policy.
According to a person named “Jenny” from the Facebook Ads Team, these types of images depicting plus size models make “viewers feel bad about themselves.” She reportedly went on to suggest a more appropriate photo to advertise the event might involve someone “running or riding a bike.”
According to a statement posted on the Cherchez La Femme Facebook page, the types of photos that are banned on the social media platform include “close-ups of ‘muffin tops’ where overhanging fat is visible,” “people pinching their fat/cellulite,” “Human medical conditions in a negative light (ex: eating disorders)” among other things.
Facebook reportedly allowed the event page to remain but refused to approve the group’s advert for the event featuring the plus size model Holliday. What is ironic about the incident is that the stated purpose of the Facebook policy in question is aimed at blocking content that encourages unhealthy weight loss, while the advert itself was for an event promoting a positive attitude about all types of bodies.
Cherchez La Femme producer, Jessamy Gleeson, said on their Facebook page: “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, and also because we haven’t been able to boost the original damn post.”
After an international outcry on the social media about the ban, Facebook eventually reversed its decision and apologized to Cherchez La Femme, followed by the ad finally being approved, complete with the photo of the plus size model.
A Facebook team member told the group: “Our policies are in place to protect the community from offensive ads. This is not the case here and I’m sorry for our incorrect review.”
“We processes millions of ads per week, and there are instances that we incorrectly disapprove an image.”
— Cherchez la Femme (@cherchezlafemmo) May 23, 2016
However, Gleeson told Mashable they are not satisfied with the apology from Facebook, saying, “It shouldn’t take international media attention for Facebook to realize it has a problem with how it is policing women’s bodies in its network. We would like to see Facebook seriously reconsider the policy that lead to this situation, and consult with feminists and body-positivist activists to rewrite and readdress this policy.”
As reported by the International Business Times, this isn’t the only recent problem involving Facebook and photos, as back in March the company was slammed after it determined that a photo of topless Aboriginal women in ceremonial paint violated “community standards.” According to critics, this showed a clear double standard, as the social media platform allows celebrities like Kim Kardashian to pose topless with body paint.
There has also been an ongoing controversy over posts including breastfeeding mothers, with Facebook now saying it will allow such photos, as long as they “comply” with their policies.