Facebook Feeling Fat?

If you’re on Facebook you may be aware of an update option where you choose “Feeling…” and then one of the pre-filled answers that include a little drawing to match your current feelings.  A member of the Fit Fatties Forum noticed that one of the options is “Feeling Fat”

Feeling Fat






While I’m happy that the face is smiling, this is irritating to me because fat is not a feeling.  It’s true that people have different definitions of what is being fat, and some people take the attitude that people aren’t fat, they have fat (I’ve already discussed my feelings about why that is problematic).  We can definitely discuss these things but what should be clear is that fat is a descriptor of appearance, and not a feeling. “Hmm, do I feel happy, frustrated, or fat today?”  does not make sense.

Generally when we use physical descriptors to describe how we feel, it ends up being derogatory and based on stereotypes (“I’m feeling blond” to describe something doing something ditzy, “I’m feeling fat” because someone hit the buffet or skipped their workout or whatever.)  Usually when people say that they feel fat, they are basing it on stereotypes about fat people – like that ridiculous “fattest thing I’ve ever done meme that went around a while ago.

I will admit that I sometimes get annoyed when a size 2 friend complains that she has to get out her (size 4) “fat jeans” because she’s bloated or whatever. It’s not that I don’t want her to feel her feelings, it’s that I know that all of my jeans are “fat jeans” and that the difference is that if an airline loses her luggage she can find “fat jeans” in her size at almost any women’s clothing store and I’ve been in huge malls where there wasn’t a single pair of jeans in my size.  It matters because suggesting that one can “feel fat” at any size  gets in the way of those of us who are trying to fight fatphobia and reclaim fat as a physical descriptor without a heaping helping of stereotypes and stigma along with it.

Thin women who “feel” fat are allowed to feel that way, and to talk about that if they want, but I would ask – is it necessary?  What are you hoping to gain?  Are you hoping to hear “You’re not fat“? Knowing that it adds to the crushing weight of oppression, stigma, and bullying that fat people deal with in our society, how important is it, really, for you to call them your fat jeans?

And why does Facebook feel the need to help out with this? I checked and there are NOT options on facebook for feeling short, tall, blonde, brunette, or thin.  Just fat.  And you know how that leaves me?

Feeling pissed






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25 thoughts on “Facebook Feeling Fat?

  1. There’s no option for feeling black or Hispanic or white or male or female? Or thin (really?)? Just fat?

    What the hell, FB?

  2. Yet another reason to not join Facebook, IMNSHO.

    LiveJournal has those emoticons, too, but they don’t have one for ‘fat.’

    Of course, it gets lonely on LJ these days….

    1. I actually joined Facebook a couple weeks ago, but it was not to goof around, it was to gain contact with friends who don’t hotmail or skype anymore, and to find out how to make a private site.

      And I agree with you about LJ. I still have a page, but it only has 3 posts. Haha! I’m considering making it more active.

  3. Maybe they need an “I feel like an insensitive jerk today” emoticon, for whoever came up with the “I feel fat” one…

    1. Incidentally, there was a clip on the news tonight from Vancouver (?) about this homeless guy who lit his hair on fire for cigarettes.

  4. On the very rare occasions I talk to my sister she’ll tell me “I had a fat day today.” My sister is 33, a prototypical California blonde, a semi-pro triathlete and an F-18 pilot in the Navy. She couldn’t be fat if she tried (which like all other people with good skinny genetics, I’ve seen her eat an incredible amount of food). For the life of me I can’t figure out why she says this? Is she insulting me? Is she insulting our overweight mother? I want to reach through the phone and shake her and say “Kathryn, I have fat days EVERYDAY! You couldn’t begin to know the amount of privilege that your looks and lifestyle afford you! I can’t work, I can barely walk, I fight with the SSA every day so I can afford to live even somewhat comfortably. I have tried every diet known to man and end up heavier and sicker than I started. I was compared to you and your massive athletic and academic privilege while we were growing up, and you say you are having a ‘fat day?’ I could see our father beam the days you and Daniel were accepted to the Naval Academy in a way he NEVER did for me, and you dare say you are having a fat day? To me? Your body is your business but how dare you use my reality as some sort of self pitying put down?”

    1. *claps* THIS is spot on and totally how I wish I could respond to my family when they say such things. I’m the only one in my family who is fat and they have no clue how much damage they do when they say such things. In the past when I’ve tried saying things like that, to make it clear what damage their words do, they completely miss the point and come back with “well, have you tried X” (X being a diet or exercise program). It goes WHOOOSH right over their heads and instead of taking responsibility for their insensitive and hurtful words, they try to put the blame on me for not having a socially acceptable body size. ”I’ll stop bullying you if you just give me your lunch money” mentality. It’s twisted. We live in a society that tells us that, if you’re fat, it’s your own fault if you’re treated badly- If we would just “get skinny” the torment would stop, so “try harder fatty”. It’s insidious and it wrong on so many levels.

  5. Great post Ragen, although I tried to find the fat emoticon and it wasn’t listed in my drop down menu. I tried typing it in where it says add your own and then it was an option along with fresh, flabbergasted, phenomenal, skinny, thin, etc. Maybe it’s just my settings? And of course it doesn’t negate all of the great things you wrote, but it is a little less awful than if it were on the standardized menu options.

  6. I am at the point where I have days of utter depression about it all. In the UK now there is a massive drive against fat. Today I heard on the radio a Doctor saying “Obesity could potentially bankrupt the NHS (National Health Service)” …. Oh so …. why don’t they just pull us all out, put us in a line up and shoot us all in our heads?
    The insinuations and/or bold statements that fat = unfit are doubling, the fact that I have muscles which cause me to struggle to walk are due to the pain of Fibromyalgia….. some days I almost run to my car….. I still weigh the same! They do not get it!
    I am so weary with it all…. my first diet I was put on – 9 years old and I am now 61…… I have had enough of it…… emoticons or NO emoticons …. people just LUV to say how fat they are at size 10….. in fact a friend this evening (size 10 uk) went on about not getting enough exercise and gaining weight. Just wanted to walk away….. but I was on Facebook chat…… so I said bye and left her to it!
    Yours feeling DEEEEEE – PRESSED

    1. I read Spiked-online and I’ve read the book by Rob Lyons called “Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder” and he gets flambasted in the English media. They would get a “nutritionist” and him as guests, and then both the newscaster and the “nutritionist” would gang up on him saying that if we only ate what we want and stop worrying, we’d be out of control.

      Also check out the UK reviews of his book on amazon, not the American ones. I’ve read it here in Canada, and think I’ll add a review here for people.

  7. I had this problem at thanksgiving (Canadian we celebrate in October) my aunt whom is very tiny while we were doing dishes suddenly said “I feel so fat now.”

    I pointed out one can not feel fat. She feels bloated. I was told to mind my own business because I don’t know what I am talking about.

  8. The phrase “feeling fat” irritates me, and I think it’s the height of insensitivity for anyone to use that emoticon on Facebook. In my experience, people use “feeling fat” as shorthand for various kinds of negative emotions, which is bad for (at least) two reasons: 1. It’s super problematic that fatphobia is so ingrained into our language and thinking that this phrase can be widely used and understood (if a blonde person said, “I feel brunette today,” it would just be confusing, but when a thin person says “I feel fat today,” most of us have a general understanding of what they mean, even if we don’t agree with their word choice). 2. It keeps people from identifying and addressing what they’re *actually* feeling, since, of course, fat is not a real feeling.

    What REALLY infuriates me, though, is when people talk about letting out their “inner fat kid.” This phrase is almost exclusively said by thin people in a happy, joking manner, when they’re about to eat a large amount of something delicious, and to me it is a 100% positive sign that the person saying it has not spent one day of their lives actually being a fat kid. Looking back at old pictures, I now realize I wasn’t actually a fat kid either, but I was taller and therefore bigger than most of my peers, and grew up around a lot of fatphobia and body shaming, so I constantly feared both becoming fat and being teased for my size. I was hypervigilant about what I ate in public; always making sure never to say I was hungry unless someone else had suggested it first, never to take more food than anyone around me, to take small, careful bites, no matter how hungry I was, to make sure I didn’t finish first. The ability to eat in public with joy and enthusiasm is in no way characteristic of being a “fat kid”: in my experience, it’s either a consequence of thin privilege, or something that a fat person works long and hard to be able to do.

    1. That sounds similar to me. I would tell others I was hungry, and was told that I’d “eaten too much already”. Our next meal was usually 5-7 hrs away.

  9. Today, I posted that I was feeling “jolly” and they have the same little fat-face emoticon for that. I can’t even.

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