We’ve all heard the sniggers about internet activism. A retweet does not a proper protest generally make, unless you’re doing it to break a super-injunction a footballer tried to enforce after cheating on his wife with his brother’s partner. That whole frenzied period was the internet generation’s Paris riots. However, every now and again the internet comes together to do something fabulous, like getting Facebook to remove the ‘Feeling Fat’ emoji following a passionate petition.
Last month Australian Rebecca Guzelian and Endangered Bodies, an advocacy group that works to combat the culture promoting negative body image, published a petition “Remove the body-shaming ‘I feel fat’ and ‘I feel ugly’ status options and emoticons from all versions of Facebook.”
In the petition copy, Rebecca asked:
“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?… 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.”
Rebecca goes on to make the point that fat and ugly are not emotions. More than 16,000 people signed the petition.
The social network pulled the emoji yesterday in response to the Change.org petition. TIME quote a Facebook statement where the company acknowledged the ‘Feeling Fat’ status update “could reinforce negative body image, particularly for people struggling with eating disorders.” What a mature response from Facebook. Now if only they could stop taking down photos of mothers breastfeeding.
Facebook maintains that most breastfeeding photos fit within their no-nudity policy, but tend to remove any images reported for obscenity.
Follow Jeanne Sutton on Twitter @jeannedesutun