- The Washington Times - Monday, May 23, 2016

Facebook apologized Monday to an Australian feminist group after an online advertisement featuring a scantily-clad plus-size model was initially rejected as “undesirable.”

The group, Cherchez La Femme, had intended on using a photograph of size-22 model Tess Holliday in a bikini to promote its upcoming “Feminism and Fat” event, but the image was flagged by Facebook’s ad team as being in violation of the social network’s guidelines.

“Ads may not depict a state of health or body weight as being perfect or extremely undesirable,” a Facebook rep wrote to Jessamy Gleeson, a member of the group who subsequently shared the exchange.

Specifically, the Facebook rep said the guidelines prohibits close-ups of overhanging fat; people with clothes that are too tight; people pinching cellulite and images where human medical conditions are cast in a negative light.

“Ads likes there are now 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,” Facebook said.

“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,” Ms. Gleeson wrote in a post where she shared the exchange. “If Facebook won’t let us boost our event, we’ll do it ourselves.”

In a statement, Facebook apologized and said the image should have never been prohibited.

“Our team processes millions of advertising images each week, so we occasionally make mistakes,” a spokesman told BBC. “To be clear, the image complies with our advertising policies. We have now approved the image and apologize for any offense this caused.”

Ms. Gleeson told The Independent that Ms. Holliday was chosen for the campaign because she is empowering, and “a powerful demonstration of how fat women can do just as many fantastic things as anyone else.”

“I’m actually a PhD student in social media and feminist activism, and in my research have seen how strongly women feel about seeing accurate representations of themselves in the media,” she added.

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