Too Fat for Facebook: Facebook Censors Plus-Sized Model’s Image, Then Apologizes

By Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
May 24, 2016 Updated: May 24, 2016

Facebook has apologized for refusing to promote an image of one of the world’s top plus-sized models.

Tess Holliday, a size 22, 5-foot-5 inch model, was pictured in a black and white bikini. In 2015, MiLK modeling agency signed Holliday, the first model of her size to be under contract with a major modeling agency. 

Cherchez La Femme, an Australian “monthly feminist talkshow,” used a photo of the 30-year-old Holliday to promote its June 7 event, “Feminism and Fat.” 

When the media group attempted to boost its Facebook event’s visibility, the ad was rejected, since it promoted “an idealized physical image.”

Cherchez La Femme producers pressed the tech company, querying why the ad was not approved. 

A member of the Facebook Ad Team replied to Cherchez La Femme, noting that the ad violated Facebook’s Health and Fitness Policy. Specifically, the use of Holliday’s image “depicts a body or body parts in an undesirable manner.”

On May 19, Cherchez La Femme shared screenshots of the exchanges on their Facebook page, along with a call to share the story. 

Jessamy Gleeson, a co-producer of Cherchez La Femme, told The Guardian that she “was utterly furious. We thought it was really horrible and isolating and alienating. 

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

Facebook was not immediately available for comment, but issued a statement on May 23. 

The tech giant said its policies are in place to “help protect the community from offensive ads that can damage their experience on our platform.

“This is not the case here and I’m sorry for our incorrect review,” the Facebook statement said. 

Facebook said it evaluates “millions of ads per week and there are instances that we incorrectly disapprove an image that does not violate our policies.”

Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca