Why Facebook Banned a Tess Holliday Ad

May 24th 2016

Almie Rose

In an effort to not offend people, Facebook just offended a lot of people.

Cherchez la Femme, a feminist talk show based in Australia, had a rude awakening from the Facebook ad team when they tried to post an ad promoting an upcoming event on their Facebook page. Their ad request was denied because the photo they used did not comply with their "health and fitness policy," according to The Guardian.

What was their proposed ad? A photo of model Tess Holliday in a bikini.

Cherchez la Femme Tess Holliday

What is Facebook's health and fitness policy?

Who knew Facebook even had a health and fitness policy? Well, they do, and it cracks down on images of bodies they view as "extremely undesirable"

It reads:

"Ads may not contain 'before and after' images or images of unexpected or unlikely results. Ads may not depict a state of health or body weight as being perfect or extremely undesirable (ex: you cannot use an image showing a person measuring his/her waist or an image focused solely on a person's abs).

Ads may not call attention to perceived imperfections through the use of language such as, 'Are you fat?' or 'Balding?'. Instead, text must present realistic and accurate information about a state of health in a neutral or positive way (e.g. 'Lose weight safely and effectively' or 'Best Hair Renewal Product').

Facebook doesn't appear to follow their own policy.

Though Facebook specifically states "you cannot use an image showing a person measuring his/her waist or an image focused solely on a person's abs," they feature this ad on their "Success stories" page, under the banner "Real business. Real results.":

Here it is placed on the page (next to an ad for the well-known healthy eating establishment, Taco Bell):

Here is the exact message Cherchez la Femme received from Facebook's ad team:

In short, they stated, "Ads like these are not allowed since they make viewers feed bad about themselves. Instead, we recommend using an image of a relevant activity, such as running or riding a bike." And that's offensive to Cherchez la Femme and their followers for a few reasons, which they posted on their page:

"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. 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."

It seems that Facebook's ad team saw an image of Holliday and decided that her body was too "undesirable" for their standards.

Cherchez la Femme did, however, decide to follow that up with one of Facebook's suggested images of someone "riding a bike":

Cherchez la Femme woman on bike screen shot

People were not happy with Facebook's decision.

Cherchez la Femme's followers voiced their disappointment with Facebook's decision:

Cherchez la Femme comment screen grab

Cherchez la Femme comment screen grab

Cherchez la Femme comment screen grab

Facebook has since apologized and accepted the ad.

Tess Holliday bikini

According to The Guardian, Facebook released the following apology on Monday:

"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 apologize for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ad."

Jessamy Gleeson, co-producer of the group, isn't exactly thrilled with the apology.

"Quite simply they need to understand we can use images of fat women to promote women being happy," she told The Guardian. "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."

[H/T The Guardian]