Facebook is making an attempt to be as politically correct as possible, and does not want to be labeled as a “heartless corporate conglomerate”. To put it simply, Facebook cares. On March eighth 2015, a petition was sent around the net and Facebook to remove the emoji describing a person as”feeling fat”. After less than a few days the emoji has been taken off the feelings list available when updating one’s status on Facebook. This move is Facebook’s attempt at being emotionally caring. Facebook has yet to respond to requests for comment on removing the “fat from their feelings”.
In a time when racial slurs, discrimination, and generalized bad attitudes have been clogging up the news pipeline, the removal of this emoji is a step in the right direction. Or is it?
Anywhere a person finds themselves they will be faced with the above mentioned problems clouding the heads of many average citizens on a daily basis. From coast to coast there is hatred running rampant. Not all hatred comes from outside sources, however. Some forms come from directly inside a person’s self. Taking down this emoji is part of working towards eliminating some of this self-hatred.
Graduate student and activist Catherine Weingarten says, ” When I was younger I struggled with an eating disorder. I hated the way I looked and was constantly telling myself that I wasn’t good enough. I was feeling angry at myself and like I wasn’t good enough, but I simplified it to ‘I feel fat.'”
The issue of body shaming is one that gets danced around but never tackled. Currently bullying has taken the public’s attention as to what is “harming our youth”, but most bullying comes first from the inside. When a young man has a hard time getting dressed in front of other boys in the school locker room, his fear of being made fun of or not looking like the other boys comes from inside his own head. A person’s body believes everything the person tells it, so when someone shames themselves their subconscious reacts and causes physical effects – illness, mental health issues, and a plethora of other self-made problems.
The point in removing a Facebook emoji describing someone as feeling fat is bringing to light that what some find funny others take very seriously. Weingarten states, “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.”
And it has. Many Facebook users live their lives through the site. Call it a ‘thing of the new generation’, when someone doesn’t have a Facebook many will turn to them and ask them “Why? Whats wrong? Hate being social?” What some fail to grasp is that there are those who still prefer meeting with and socializing with people organically. These “organic only” citizens can see the harm in an online life. When texting someone through Facebook or their phone, it becomes increasingly easy to say or do things that harm others. Breaking up with an ex can be an exercise in who can insult the other most.
Critics of Facebook’s choice to remove the “feeling fat” emoji comment that society has grown thin-skinned. Opinions vary on whether Americans have lost their thick-skinned nature, or if mental health awareness has become the latest trend in determining what is wrong with human society. In 2011, a study was gathered that showed one in five Americans currently experienced a mental health issue. Considering this, if something that many consider to be not a big deal like removing an emoji can help people with their mental health, it seems as though Facebook cares enough about their users’ health to comply with a well circulated petition. It is nice to see that a worldwide corporation as large as Facebook actually listens to their customers.
Opinion by Benjamin Johnson
Photo by Billy Wilson – Flickr License