Ashley Madison Fat Ad Shames Women, Says Obese Model

PHOTO: Jacqueline, the model in this ad for Ashley Madison, said the dating site has used the ad, without her permission, to shame fat people.
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An obese model lying seductively in a red bra and black lace panties has become the poster child for why a husband should cheat on his wife in ads slapped across the Internet this week.

"Does your wife scare you at night?" asks an ad for Ashley Madison, the dating site that promotes affairs outside marriage.

When the model in the photo saw how it was used, she said it scared and offended her, because the ad was suggesting that fat women make repulsive sexual partners.

Identifying herself as "Jacqueline," she wrote a letter to the celebrity, sex and fashion website Jezebel, saying her image had been used without her authorization.

"I am mortified that my image and likeness would be used as advertisement for two things I am so vehemently against: namely cheating and, to an even greater extent, body shaming," Jacqueline wrote in a Nov. 7 guest column.

Her scantily clad, size 32 image adorns her erotic website, Juicy Jackie, which she says caters to "the tastes of those that love big women, their curves, rolls and all the plush softness that comes with being fat."

"I was under the impression at the time that people purchasing these photos from the photographer would be doing so for their own personal use," she wrote. "I had no idea that the photographer would endeavor to sell the photos to corporations and/or stock photo companies, who would then go on, repeatedly, to use them in rude and mocking ways."

Jacqueline told ABCNews.com that she is more upset about how "damaging" the ad is to women of all sizes."

"Beauty is not one size fits all, nor is the matter of body insecurity," she said. "This is a foul message to send women and to do so repeatedly shows a great lack of respect and overall sense of disdain towards women, especially those who do not fit this company's ideal body image."

Afterwards, Ashley Madison's CEO Noel Biderman shot back via Jezebel: "The best thing that could've happened to this woman is that we used her in our ad. Despite what she may want you to think, she is reaping the press for her own pornography website."

This week, Ashley Madison launched a second ad of Jacqueline's image lying seductively beside a thinner look-a-like with an X mark through the plus-size model and a check next to her svelte alter ego.

It says, "We call it as we see it."

The controversy pit editors at Jezebel, who defended the rotund model, against Ashley Madison, a 12.2 million member site that proclaims, "Life is Short. Have an Affair."

Biderman told ABCNews.com that Ashley Madison paid Getty Images to use the photo legally.

"We bought them off the site, paid a licensing fee and [Jacqueline] knows that," he said. "As a model, she signed the waiver. It happens all over the world. I assume she is not the first model to complain.

"She is either being naive or she is the greatest self-promoter," he said. "No one does this for personal use. They try to make money off the image. As it turns out, she has her own website that sells pornography and is familiar with this industry."

Biderman said the site didn't choose Jacqueline because she was overweight. "It was a statement about finding you are in a relationship with someone who is unrecognizable," he said.

"I don't think it's a jab at fat people," Biderman said. "I always try to do advertising in real-life situations. For many people, a [spouse] is less attractive because they don't pay attention to their body type. I may still love my partner, but they are not sexually interesting."

Fat Acceptance Group Slams Ashley Madison for Ads

Peggy Howell, spokeswoman for the National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance (NAAFA), said that discrimination is "exceedingly pervasive."

"Health care doctors don't want to treat us and there are work situations where people are not hired because of they are a certain body size and overlooked for promotions and raises," she said. "We are told that we really should take steps to change our bodies, and when we do, we are often ridiculed."

"Ashley Madison has certainly figured out the perfect way to maximize his advertising dollars by creating a series of obnoxious ads that he knows will make women's groups and size acceptance groups quite angry," said Powell. "When we object to his inflammatory ads and immoral website, he reaps the benefit of the media exposure."

Last year NAAFA joined a new organization, the International Association Against Image Discrimination, to fight worldwide image discrimination.

Jezebel editor Anna North said that despite the sexual nature of Jacqueline's personal website, the ads are "disturbing."

"The photo of her was meant as an erotic photo with a 'come hither' posture," North said. "The character they are creating in the ad is a wife who is sexual and not someone who does not want to have sex with her husband. It is really contrary to the image that Ashley Madison portrays of helping people in sexless marriages."

The tit-for-tat began when Jezebel received tips from readers who saw post-Halloween the ads in New York's Metro newspaper.

North wrote a critical Nov. 1 commentary, not knowing who the model was: "The message: your wife, though she's clearly gone to some effort to look sexy and seduce you, is too fat. Solution: adultery."

Several days later, Jezebel received a letter from Jacqueline.

"Sometimes, someone has a good point, but they are not a professional writer and are not articulate," North said. "She did a really good job and the e-mail was powerful, so we posted it in full."

North said she does not judge people in open relationships who use the dating service. "If that is true, no one is getting hurt," she said. "But if the company is actually promoting outright infidelity in monogamous relationships, they are doing something despicable."

Especially, said North, if a man can cheat on his wife just because he doesn't find her attractive.

Jacqueline's erotic website, which is filled with gritty images of the model in pornographic poses, is beside the point, according to North.

"If the people involved are coerced or trafficked or don't have choices, I would be bothered, but that doesn't seem to be the case with her," she said. "It's her own site and she is doing this out of free will."

Jacqueline defended her pornographic website as not "shaming to myself or to other women."

"I portray myself in a positive and proactive light, well aware and assured of my subscribers' attraction to me," according to Jacqueline, who said she has full control of the site's content -- "the opposite of exploitation."

She said she believes the mean-spirited campaign damages the self-worth of all women, not just fat ones, especially in a society riddled with eating disorders and bullying.

"A size 2 woman who sees this ad sees the message: 'If I don't stay small, he will cheat,'" she writes. "A size 12 woman might see this ad and think, 'if I don't lose 30 lbs, he will cheat.' A size 32 woman could see this ad, and feel 'I will never find love.' It's horrific."

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