Fat Is Not A Feeling Petition: A Reflection by Catherine Weingarten

I recently have gotten involved with an awesome “change.org” petition that wants to do away with the “fat” emoticon on facebook. The emoticon appears when you are writing in your status and adding a “I feel” to the end of it. The feelings include things like sad, happy, depressed and also ugly and fat. Endangered Bodies and I felt this was problematic since fat is not a feeling, it’s an adjective that we usually use to shame ourselves.

The petition has gone viral and has been featured in such magazines as People, Glamour and NY Daily News. The whole thing has been a bit surreal! I have been doing body positive activism work for about 4 years now but nothing so mainstream and visible. This story was also a big deal for me, since I talked about my personal experience with eating disorders and how that informs the fat emoticon issue. Sharing my story was a big risk, but since body positivity is such an important issue to me-I knew that it was what I wanted/needed/had to do. 

So many people feel alone when they struggle with an eating disorder. They feel like they are the only one who hates their body and that everyone else is super happy with how they look and eat cheerios and laugh and lead blissful lives.  But by sharing my story, I hope to show people, especially young women, that they are not the only one who have struggled and that there is hope to lead a more fulfilling, colorful and complex life.

When I had an eating disorder, I could have never imagined myself having a future that involved an emerging career in playwriting as well as activism. All I could see was how much weight I needed to lose and “how fat I felt” and how unworthy I was.  But now that I am thankfully on the other side, I hope that I can keep working with awesome orgs like Realize your Beauty and Endangered Bodies to show people that are are more than how we look, we are so much more than that!

The scary thing though is when activists tell their story, there can sometimes be backlash. I have gotten lots of mean comments through social media telling me to “get a life” and other things in that arena. When I get those comments, I try to just breathe through it, call a friend if I need to talk about it, but try not to take it too personally.

For me, being an artist means telling the truth and I really do believe that we deserve better when it comes to social media. I want young people to know that “fat is not a feeling” and that they are so much more than how they look. Eating disorders effect so many young people per year, and I really believe taking a critical look at social media can help us help future generations and I hope to keep creating plays and doing activist work that help people to take notice.

By Catherine Weingarten

Links to articles and petition below:

Change.org Petition

Washington Post
Huffington Post Women
Huffington Post UK
Daily Dot
Ohio University
I Haven't Shaved In Six Weeks- Blog
The Mary Sue


Update: VICTORY! Read more here
And here: Proud2BMe

(image courtesy of Endangered Bodies NYC)

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