The body positive photo of Tess Holliday that Facebook deemed "undesirable".

Over the past couple of years, Tess Holliday has become something of an icon for body positivity — but recent events suggest Facebook doesn’t necessarily share this view.

Last week, Melbourne-based organisation Cherchez La Femme attempted to created a Facebook ad for ‘Feminism and Fat’, the latest instalment of their monthly talk show series.

They’d illustrated the ad with an image of size 22 model Holliday in a bikini, which anyone would argue was a perfectly relevant and appropriate choice.

The image in question. (via Facebook/Cherchez La Femme)

The 30-year-old rose to fame by founding the hugely popular 'Eff Your Beauty Standards' campaign, which preaches body love and diversity.

On her own social media accounts, Holliday regularly calls out body shaming and reminds her followers that health and happiness are not indexed to size.

Yet Facebook knocked the ad back, claiming it violated their guidelines by "promoting an idealised physical image". The event organisers appealed the social media site's decision, assuming an error had been made, but it wasn't upheld.

"The image depicts a body or body parts in an undesirable manner. Ads may not depict a state of health or body weight as being perfect or extremely undesirable," a Facebook Ads team member, Jenny, wrote in response.


The statement went on to provide examples of these "undesirable" body images, which included close-ups of "muffin tops", people wearing too-tight clothing or pinching their cellulite, and negative portrayals of human medical conditions.

"Ads like these are not allowed since they make viewers feel bad about themselves," it concluded. As an alternative, Facebook suggested the ad be illustrated with an image of "a relevant activity", such as someone riding a bicycle or going for a run.

Watch: Meghan Ramsay on the effects of negative body image. (Post continues after video.)

Yes, really.

Understandably, Cherchez's organisers — and their many followers — are not at all happy with this response, arguing it entirely missed the point of the event being promoted.

"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," Jess, Karen and Abby wrote.

"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." (Post continues after gallery.)


It makes you wonder — would the ad have been approved if it featured a close-up of glistening washboard abs, or a woman performing squats in a cut-away bikini? Because our feeds seem to be chock-full of those, many of them being ads for dieting and training programs.

In a follow-up post last night, Cherchez La Femme decided to play by the rules by posting a photo of a woman on a bicycle.

Though it's probably not the lithe stock image Facebook had in mind...

Nailed it.

UPDATE, May 24, 2016: Facebook has changed its position, and today sent this statement:

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

What do you think of Facebook's decision?

Featured image: Getty