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#FatIsNotAFeeling Petition Finds Success
By: Jennifer Graber
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Instances in which we have tied a body description to an emotion have probably occurred more often than we care to admit. Many of us are guilty of, at some point, saying that we feel fat. We might do so without any real consideration of the impact of our words, and it might seem like a harmless comparison. However, when that statement of feeling fat is splashed across the digital airwaves on social media, the impact can be further reaching than we realize. This was one of the primary motivators for a recent online petition.
 
Catherine Weingarten, a graduate student from Ohio, noticed an alarming trend on her Facebook news feed. Weingarten saw her friends posting statuses that she considered concerning. Her friends posted that they were feeling fat. The status was coupled with one of Facebook’s stock emojis. The feeling fat emoji was a smiley face with rosy cheeks and a puffy appearance.
 
Seeing the emoji on Facebook startled Weingarten. She felt as if it had the potential to be perceived as “making fun of people” or making light of a serious situation. Weingarten believed this even included those who suffer or have suffered from various eating and body disorders. She made a point to state that fat is not a feeling or emotion. Weingarten also stated that allowing this emoji to exist on Facebook is perpetuating a form of body shaming. All of this equates to a negative experience, and she sought to make a change.
 
Weingarten took to Change.org to draft a petition to have Facebook remove the feeling fat emoji. She urged her friends and followers to realize that feeling fat is not “cute” or “fun” for many people. It can actually be an intense psychological issue that runs deep. Weingarten made it clear that she is absolutely not okay with this emoji, and no one else should be either.
 
By Tuesday afternoon the online petition had gathered an amazing 16,000+ signatures, and Facebook actually responded. On Tuesday afternoon the social site had removed the "feeling fat" emoji. The social site says it is all about finding the best way for its users to express themselves, and it had heard the voice of its community. In a statement released by Facebook, the site said it would continue to look for feedback and ways to improve the social media experience. So, in this instance, an online petition actually made a difference.
 
To some this may seem like an extreme measure, or perhaps like we are oversensitive as a society. That might not necessarily be the case. By removing this particular emoji from Facebook, it will not, in any way, remove all the instances of body shaming or bullying. However, it could possibly reshape our social media experience. Additionally, it could create an honest dialog and cause a shift in thinking.
 
It is always refreshing when social media harnesses its power for something that actually matters. If we want change, we might actually have to take radical steps, and it is nice that there are those who are brave enough to do so.


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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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