One of the options for Facebook structured status updates that was likely intended to be humorous and tongue-in-cheek has instead raised the ire of a global women’s initiative.
When Facebook users compose status updates, they can click on a smiley-face icon for “Feeling” to add emoticons representing how they are feeling at the time of posting, but Catherine Weingarten of international local-global initiative Endangered Bodies took offense to the “feeling fat” option, launching a petition on Change.org for the social network to remove that option.
UPDATED: Facebook removed the “feeling fat” option for structured status updates Tuesday, saying in a statement:
We’ve heard from our community that listing “feeling fat” as an option for status updates could reinforce negative body image, particularly for people struggling with eating disorders,so we’re going to remove “feeling fat” from the list of options. We’ll continue to listen to feedback as we think about ways to help people express themselves on Facebook.
Endangered Bodies described itself as follows on its homepage:
Endangered Bodies is an international local-global initiative, launched by the international Endangered Species summits in March 2011. We challenge all those merchants of body hatred who turn girls and women against their own bodies.
Weingarten wrote in her petition:
Scrolling through Facebook the other day, I saw a friend’s status set to “feeling fat,” accompanied by an emoji with chubby cheeks and a double chin. I think it was supposed to be funny, but seeing this status made me feel angry.
As someone who has struggled with and overcome disordered eating, I know what it’s like to “feel” fat. I have spent years of my life consumed with negative thoughts about my body, and far too many days starving myself in an effort to lose weight. But even worse than the skipped meals and the hours spent obsessing in front of the mirror was the fear of what others thought about me and my body.
When Facebook users set their status to “feeling fat,” they are making fun of people who consider themselves to be overweight, which can include many people with eating disorders. That is not OK. Join me in asking Facebook to remove the “fat” emoji from their status options.
Fat is not a feeling. Fat is a natural part of our bodies, no matter their weight. And all bodies deserve to be respected and cared for.
Facebook is the most popular social networking site in the world right now. With 890 million users each day, it has the power to influence how we talk to each other about our bodies. I dream that one day the platform will actively encourage body positivity and self-esteem among its users, but for now, all I ask is that it stop endorsing self-destructive thoughts through seemingly harmless emojis.
Please sign to demand that Facebook remove the “fat” emoji from its status options and stop encouraging negative body image among girls.
The petition tallied more than 15,000 signatures at the time of this post, and in an update, Weingarten wrote that news outlets including Glamour, The Washington Post and Cosmopolitan had picked up the story.
Readers: What are your thoughts on the “feeling fat” option for status updates?