Last year, Facebook added the ability to supplement your normal status updates with emojis linked to certain feelings and activities. There are now hundreds of options.
But a couple of the “feeling” emoji options are rubbing some activists the wrong way – and they want Facebook to remove them.
A Change.org petition demanding Facebook remove the “feeling fat” emoji is more than two-thirds the way to its goal.
“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,” says petition creator Catherine Weingarten. “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.
Her co-petitioner is the group Endangered Bodies, whose stated goal is to “challenge all those merchants of body hatred who turn girls and women against their own bodies.”
“Fat is a substance that every body has and needs. Fat is also an adjective – a descriptive word about a physical attribute. Just like tall, short, black or white, it should not be misused to shame oneself or others. However, the fashion, beauty and diet industries have an interest in making us feel insecure about our own bodies and over time “fat” has become a negative word, not a simple statement of size. There is nothing neutral about it. The stigma and criticism of fat and the elevation of thin make them stand-ins for other kinds of words, feelings and moods,” says Endangered Bodies in a blog post about the petition.
“Endangered Bodies sees this fear of fat and idealisation of thinness throughout society as a form of weight stigma, which can have a serious impact on the millions of people dealing with negative body image. Body-shaming and weight stigma are associated with lower self-esteem and disordered eating, an issue that Facebook – being a social platform – needs to take seriously.”
They’ve started a social media campaign with the hashtag #fatisnotafeeling.
— Sharon Haywood (@Sharon_Haywood) February 26, 2015
The group also wants Facebook to ditch the “feeling ugly” option.
Though the emoji might seem harmless to some, Weingarten says it is far from it.
“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,” she writes in her petition.