An online petition that asks Facebook to remove a ‘feeling fat’ status and emoji from status-update options has been on rounds recently.
Activist group Endangered Bodies campaign urges the popular social network to remove the ‘fat’ options from its current moods feature, arguing it can be hurtful and promotes body shaming. The non-profit organization has gathered seven young activists from around the world to serve as ambassadors for the Change.org petition, including Ohio-based graduate student and playwright Catherine Weingarten.
“The issue is so important because being a young person, Facebook is kind of the way we live,” Weingarten says. she also adds, “Fat is not a feeling but a natural part of our bodies, no matter their weight.”
The chubby-cheeked smiley face, which also goes with ‘feeling stuffed,’ is one of the 100 feelings Facebook users can add to status update and posts. Some may consider it as a joke, but for people with eating disorders or low self-esteem, ‘feeling fat’ is loaded concept, Weingarten told at interview. She believes that the emoticon endorses self-destructive thoughts.
Her petition on Change.org already has the signatures of over 13,000 people. Facebook has taken notice, and representatives from the site have been engaging in an open dialogue with Endangered Bodies.
Facebook does not intend to take an immediate action to do away with the option, says sources.
“People use Facebook to share their feelings with friends and support each other,” the statement reads. “One option we give people to express themselves is to add a feeling to their posts. You can choose from over 100 feelings we offer based on people’s input or create your own.”
The social network encourages people to seek help for a friend that may have posted something indicated they may have an eating disorder.“Facebook is working with the National Eating Disorders Association to provide resources to those struggling with eating disorders,” the social media site posted in its Help Center.
While there are no immediate plans to remove the “fat” emoticon from Facebook, it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
“I’m optimistic,” says Weingarten. “Just the fact that people have been talking about this so much, it’s clear that it’s struck a chord with a lot of people.”