Facebook has apologized after refusing to run an advertisement featuring plus-sized model Tess Holliday wearing a bikini.
Australian feminist group Cherchez La Femme last week lashed out at the social network when it rejected a promo for an event advocating body positivity. Meaning "look for that woman" in French, Cherchez la Femme is a Melbourne-based feminist talk show covering current affairs and pop culture. Next month's episode is titled "Feminism and Fat."
But when CLF producer Jessamy Gleeson tried promoting the June 7 live show, her ad request was rejected because it encouraged an "idealized physical image."
"I appealed this decision through Facebook, thinking that someone must have gotten a little confused about what we were doing by using an image of the divine Tess Holliday for the event banner," Gleeson wrote in a post. "But no, Facebook responded by telling me that the ad wasn't approved because the image contravened their 'health and fitness policy,' and that I should instead consider replacing this image with one of a 'relevant activity, such as running or riding a bike.'"
A self-described "body positive activist," Holliday was named by Vogue Italia as one of the top plus-size models in the world. She later became the first woman of her size (22, to be exact) to be signed by a mainstream modeling agency.
But Facebook managed to overlook that, according to Gleeson, who claimed the company "ignored" that the CLF's program covers body positivity—"which comes in all shapes and sizes, but in this particular case of our event, fat bodies."
"We're raging pretty hard over here," Gleeson said. "Both because Facebook seemingly has no idea that plus-sized self-described fat women can feel great about themselves, and also because we haven't been able to boost the original damn post."
The social network later admitted its mistake, chalking it up to an oversight by an advertising review program, which includes automated and manual analysis.
"Our team processes millions of advertising images each week, and in some instances we incorrectly prohibit ads," a Facebook spokeswoman told PCMag. "This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologize for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ad."
Holliday, meanwhile, said on Twitter that she is "Kinda tired of defending my body in the plus industry when colleagues of mine who are smaller are praised for being 'good role models.'"