Confirmed victory
Petitioning Facebook

Remove the body-shaming ‘I feel fat’ and ‘I feel ugly’ status options and emoticons from all versions of Facebook.

My name is Rebecca and I am one of a group of women from around the world who have joined with Endangered Bodies to ask Facebook to remove the body-shaming ‘I feel fat’ and ‘I feel ugly’ status options and emoticons from all versions of Facebook. Fat is not a feeling!

How does it make you feel when someone close to you tells you they feel fat?

As a woman in my mid-20s, this is something I experience every single day - from my friends, family and others around me. And now, on Facebook. Did you know that Facebook lets you tell all your friends just how much you hate your body?

I was around 19 when I first began using Facebook in 2007. Already an adult - and although I would say I was through the worst of my adolescent years of body insecurity, this can still be a recurring issue for me and for almost everyone I know.  Facebook now is a significant part of our culture - used daily by many, and particularly younger adolescents and even children! One of the greatest things Facebook has been able to provide is a sense of connection, a feeling of belonging and a way to experience events in the lives of those close to us. But with this comes the ability to look closely at other people’s lives, and equally have our own lives placed under the spotlight. Ultimately, whether we like to admit it or not, we can often find ourselves drawing comparisons between our life, and the lives of those on our friends list that are sprawled across our newsfeeds every day.

I’m sure each and every one of you reading this has had a similar experience at some point. Although, for me it’s not just about these experiences I have in my personal life.  Working as a counsellor in the field of eating disorders, I spend A LOT of time talking to people about the way they feel about their bodies - how much they hate their bodies, how dissatisfied they are that they can’t look the way they want, how hard they are working and how much time they are spending trying to change their bodies, and finally, just how much all of this is ruining their lives. I also spend a huge amount of time speaking to the concerned loved ones, carers, teachers and health professionals who see the pain first hand that’s experienced by those around them suffering from an eating disorder, disordered eating and body shame, yet just have no idea where to start or what to do to help!

Since 2013, Facebook has allowed its users to choose ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’ emoticons as part of the ‘feelings’ feature of their status updates. Having these word choices completely normalises using derogatory descriptive terms in the place of real feelings. How can a person feel ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’ when these aren't actually feelings? ‘Fat’ and ‘ugly’ are adjectives. They describe physical characteristics, NOT feelings.  What’s worse is that these adjectives are judgemental and forced on us by society to make women (and increasingly men) feel negatively about their otherwise healthy bodies! When someone says “I feel fat” what they’re really communicating is that they feel unattractive, unhappy, embarrassed and insecure about their body. And believe it or not, these feelings are most commonly a response to the unrealistic, culturally promoted ideals of thinness and beauty that are shoved in our faces every single day.

My biggest concern with normalising this kind of language (or as it’s more fittingly called, ‘fat talk’) is the effect it’s having on young people - and no, I’m not just talking about those with eating disorders, although the effect on this population is beyond damaging! Body image is consistently rated as the biggest issue of concern for young Australians generally, and there is a huge amount of research that tells us that this kind of ‘fat talk’ actually increases body shame. We are constantly bombarded with an idealisation of thinness in our society, which leads to this intense fear of being fat and a culture full of stigma around weight. This can have a major impact on the millions of people dealing with negative body image, with body shaming and weight stigma being linked to lower self-esteem and disordered eating – risk factors for developing an eating disorder! And this is where Facebook also plays a role - did you know that the research suggests Facebook use is associated with increased risk of developing an eating disorder along with other risk factors including worrying about weight & anxiety?

As someone who has experienced the effects of this kind of language, both in my personal life and professionally with clients, I’m asking you to please rally with me in urging Facebook to remove the ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’ emoticons and options from status updates, in all languages. We need to take a positive step to reduce the pressures and the negativity that surround us when it comes to our bodies and the way we look. After all, we are more than what we look like – and fat is not a feeling!

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    Rebecca Guzelian and Endangered Bodies started this petition with a single signature, and won with 16,687 supporters. Start a petition to change something you care about.




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