STU photo

Faced with backlash, St. Thomas University has pulled this photo from its Facebook page.

A St. Thomas University photo campaign that was supposed to prompt students to be greater critical thinkers has itself come under withering criticism.

It features a photo of an underweight woman in a bikini lying on some rocks. The photo was posted to the university’s Facebook page and asks the question: “Healthy or unhealthy?”

But instead of sparking debate on body image, the school was forced to pull the photo in the face of backlash. It has apologized. 

One recent graduate says she was embarrassed and appalled to see such an image posted by the university.

"Throwing something on Facebook, not looking at it for four days, and allowing it to just go in such a direction that people were hurt and angry does not do anything to advertise the university. Does not do anything to promote critical thinking,” Hannah Gray said.

The university communications department launched the campaign, and its director is admitting the whole thing missed the target.

Jeffrey Carleton said St. Thomas wanted to kickstart a meaningful conversation on body image.

“It didn’t have the reaction that we were looking for,” he said. “Instead of engaging on the debate on the issue most people focused on the image.”

He said the university will choose its photos more carefully in the future, but doesn’t believe this one has hurt St. Thomas’ reputation.