Feeling fat is no longer an emoticon on Facebook.
The social network by Tuesday had changed the status of a chubby-cheeked smiley face with a double chin from "feeling fat" to "feeling stuffed" after an online petition ignited concerns that it could leave people feeling negative about their bodies.
"We've heard from our community that listing 'feeling fat' as an option for status updates could reinforce negative body image, particularly for people struggling with eating disorders. So we're going to remove 'feeling fat' from the list of options," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "We'll continue to listen to feedback as we think about ways to help people express themselves on Facebook."
In February, Twitter partnered with Dove on a campaign called "Speak Beautiful" to encourage women and girls to send more positive messages online. A study conducted by Dove showed that 8 out of 10 women saw negative comments on social media criticizing a woman's looks.
Claire Mysko, director of programs at the National Eating Disorders Association, said that while social media don't cause eating disorders, negative comments about body image can play a role in "amplifying and sometimes further entrenching disordered thoughts and behaviors."
"We applaud Facebook for their decision to remove this emoticon and their willingness to see that as a company with such enormous reach, they have an opportunity to encourage healthier conversations about food, weight and body image," Mysko said.
When Ohio State University student Catherine Weingarten saw a friend's status pop up with the "feeling fat" emoji on Facebook, it made her feel angry.
So she launched an online petition with Endangered Bodies, an international initiative aimed at promoting positive body image, to get the social network to remove the emoticon. More than 16,700 people signed the petition.
"As someone who has struggled with and overcome disordered eating, I know what it's like to 'feel' fat. I have spent years of my life consumed with negative thoughts about my body, and far too many days starving myself in an effort to lose weight," Weingarten wrote in a post about the petition, which was posted on Change.org.
Facebook users who say they're "feeling fat" are making fun of people who view themselves as overweight, including those with eating disorders, the 24-year-old wrote in the post.
On Tuesday, after Facebook changed the emoticon's label, Weingarten expressed another emotion through a tweet.
She was feeling thrilled.
Social media users have had mixed reactions to the online petition as well as Facbook's decision, using the hashtag #fatisnotafeeling to voice their concerns.
© 2015 Tribune News Service