Kit Steinkellner
March 10, 2015 12:48 pm

Until today there was a pretty uncool “feeling” option available when posting a Facebook status. For those out-of-the-know the “feeling” options are those little smiley-face buttons on the bottom bar that allow you to accompany any status you’re posting with a “feeling” and an emoticon demonstrating said feeling. You could be feeling “blessed” or “sick,” “chill” or “stressed.” And then, way down at the bottom, there used to be a chubby-cheeked, double-chinned emoticon to use if you were “feeling fat.”

Well we are SO happy to report that after a change.org petition went viral and got over 16,000 signatures, Facebook has done away with the controversial “feeling fat” choice.

Here is Facebook’s announcement:

Now, let’s take a look back at how this whole thing came to be.

Catherine Weingarten, along with Endangered Bodies — a global initiative challenging companies who body shame — set out to rid Facebook of that offensive emoticon. Catherine started a Change.org petition called, bluntly, “Remove the ‘Feeling Fat’ Emoticon Option.” In the petition, she explained why she finds this status option so deeply problematic:

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.

Catherine’s points make 100% sense to us. It does seem that the main reason Facebook users would use the “feeling fat” status update would be to express loathing for their own bodies and we’re so glad it’s gone. Even though we are in the middle of a body positivity renaissance, the word “fat” still carries stigma and is considered by many to be a trigger word. There are people who embrace the word fat, who imbue it with positivity and pride, but it’s abundantly clear that the Facebook “feeling fat” emoticon was not a part of the fat acceptance movement. There was nothing body positive about this status update.

In a world in which websites like Pinterest and Instagram have banned #thinspiration and #thinspo — users who search this hashtag now find themselves directed to information about eating disorders — it seemed out of touch for Facebook to allow “fat” on their list of “feelings.” We are so glad that Facebook listened to its users and ditched an option that made thousands and thousands uncomfortable.

As Catherine wrote to her Change.org followers, “I’m thrilled that FB decided to remove the ‘feeling fat’ emoji. 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.” We’re so glad you did too!

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