Tess-Holliday-Bikini-HashtagFacebook has apologized after banning a photo of a plus-size model the social network originally said depicted “a body or body parts in an undesirable manner.”

The Australian feminist group Cherchez la Femme had attempted to put money behind the photo to promote an event called “Feminism and Fat.”

It featured an image of Tess Holliday wearing a bikini. The size-22 model, who is 5 feet, 5 inches tall, is known as the first woman of her size and height to sign a contract with a major modeling agency (MiLK Model Management in London).

Facebook did not remove the photo from the site, but it prevented it from being used in a Sponsored Post.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 11.52.17 PM

The Facebook ad teams said the photo violated the company’s “health and fitness” advertising policy, according to a copy of the message Cherchez la Femme received and posted to its Facebook page.

“We thought it was really horrible and isolating and alienating,” an organizer of the feminist group, Jessamy Gleeson, told The Guardian, where we first spotted the story.

“Quite simply they need to understand we can use images of fat women to promote women being happy,” she added.

Facebook was not immediately available for comment.


The event aimed to promote body positivity for people of all sizes. Facebook said in its message, however, that “ads like these are not allowed since they make viewers feel bad about themselves.”

Cherchez la Femme responded in a Facebook post: “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.”

The feminist group asked its followers to share their post to “join us in our disgust” and to promote the event on June 7.

Facebook later backtracked and issued an apology.

It said in a statement sent to The Guardian: “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 apologized for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ad.”

According to the email Facebook originally sent to Cherchez la Femme, Facebook’s health-and-fitness policy prohibits ads that display:

  • “Close-ups of ‘muffin tops’ where the overhanging fat is visible.”
  • “People with clothes that are too tight.”
  • “People pinching their fat/cellulite (even with full body visible).”
  • “Human medical conditions in a negative light (ex: eating disorders).”

Before it apologized, Facebook recommended that Cherchez la Femme replace the photo of “body positive activist” and model Tess Holliday with someone “running or riding a bike.”