You guys may already know this, but about a week ago, Facebook removed “feeling fat” from its status update “feeling” emoticon options. This was sparked by a Change.org petition written by Catherine Weingarten and the local-global initiative Endangered Bodies. You can view the full petition (and Facebook’s response) here.
Part of the argument for the change was that such a status update makes fun of people who are overweight or have eating disorders, but the more important part, in my opinion, is that fat is not a feeling. Because it’s not. I used to think so, until I read Jess Weiner’s amazing book (which I will reference over and over again on this blog, so get used to it!) Do I Look Fat in This?: Life Doesn’t Begin Five Pounds from Now. The reality is that “feeling fat” is always a cover-up for another feeling. Perhaps you’re disappointed in yourself for not working out, so you say “I feel fat.” Maybe you’re sad that someone you care about or admire rejected you, so you say, “I feel fat.” The underlying emotions are a bit scarier to reveal, because doing so would make us vulnerable.
I know what it’s like to blame problems or negative emotions on feeling/being fat, uncool, or ugly. The reality is, however, that when I was blaming my problems on surface-level descriptors, I wasn’t facing the real problem: I was too insecure to believe I deserved happiness, and therefore, I wasn’t seeking it out.
I’m so glad Facebook removed the “feeling fat” emoticon option, but the more important result of this petition is the conversations it has started. Fat is not a feeling, nor is it as scary as we make it out to be. (Believe me, I’ve been all over the spectrum, weight-wise, and there is no direct correlation between thinness and Good Things.) Personally, I’d love to see Facebook remove “feeling stupid” and “feeling ugly,” because I think they are similarly problematic. Ultimately, however, I hope we become more comfortable with feelings – and fat – so that we don’t need to rely on superficial, problematic correlations.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinions on the Facebook change as well as the larger issue of fat as a feeling (or not).