Facebook this week removed a feature that allowed users to tell their friends they're "feeling fat," in apparent response to an online petition that garnered more than 16,000 signatures. The "feeling fat" emoticon had been among the lengthy list of feelings and activities that users can include when updating their statuses, alongside the likes of "blessed," "loved," and "drunk." Supporters of the petition argued that "fat is not a feeling," and that by including the smiling, double-chinned emoticon, Facebook was "encouraging negative body image among girls." The company removed the emoticon on Tuesday.
"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," Facebook said in a statement Tuesday. "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."
"I feel so happy that I’ve helped eliminate one form of body shaming hatred on the internet."
The Change.org petition was one of several online campaigns launched by the group Endangered Bodies, as part of last month's National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The US petition was spearheaded by 24-year-old student Catherine Weingarten, who claimed that the emoticon was "making fun of people who consider themselves to be overweight, which can include many people with eating disorders." Both Weingarten and Endangered Bodies were understandably pleased following Facebook's decision to remove it.
"I'm thrilled that [Facebook] decided to remove the ‘feeling fat’ emoji," Weingarten wrote in a post to the petition website Tuesday. "This success shows us that people together can challenge the cultural messages that are so damaging to our ability to love ourselves and live comfortably in our bodies. As someone who struggled with body image, I feel so happy that I’ve helped eliminate one form of body shaming hatred on the internet."
The "feeling fat" option may no longer be available on the site, but the same rosy-cheeked, bloated emoticon is still there under the "feeling stuffed" status. It's also worth noting that the "feeling ugly" option is still available under Facebook's emoticons menu.