No one will blame you for missing it, but Facebook made a feminist tweak to the Friends icon on the top right side of the homepage. It is unknown when the subtle change even took place, yet it’s told to already be rolling out on mobile apps and soon will hit desktop computers as well.
The change amounts to the other modifications recently made by Facebook, such as the new feature for pop-out videos, or the oh-so-subtle change in their logo to make it look more sleek. Perhaps a good majority hasn’t really noticed it, but it’s there.
The newest alteration was done to the Friends icon due to designer Caitlin Winner noticing some unfortunate implications and flaws within its shape. And, as every graphic designer would tell you, little else is more horrifying and irritating than noticing mistakes after the work has already been published.
There was an apparent ‘chip on the shoulder’ of the female glyph that stood out as a flaw when viewed by itself. It had been cut to mold around the figure of the man and that masked the mistake, but it looked clearly unnatural when presented by itself.
And, as the designer herself jested, anyone with rounded, normal shoulders could have been offended by the error in its design.
Next, she moved on to the simplistic matter of both the female and the male icon’s hair. While the woman has been given a more stylish twist to the previously flattened bob-cut, the man’s hairstyle is now more neatly arranged, without the bit of spiky hair sticking out.
Another one of her changes was focused on the arrangement of the two symbols together in the Friends icon. The first showed the woman clearly standing behind the man, literally shadowed by him, and while the implication was small, a modification was required before it escalated into a larger issue.
As a college-educated woman herself, Winner stated that it was “hard not to read into the symbolism” of the icon where the woman was in no position to “lean in”, making a reference to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s bestselling book ‘Lean In’ that encourages female empowerment.
The newly designed icon now has the man and woman side by side, of equal standing and equal size. The graphic designer mentioned her multiple attempts to create an appropriate symbol that would not have the two genders separated by a hard line, but none were successful.
Rather than having what looked like mythical two-headed creature as a Friends icon, she resorted to past solutions. It’s another understandable habit of every graphic designer, over thinking and over complicating until returning to the initial idea.
The new icons are better rounded and more balanced in terms of shape and size, and perhaps, a bit politically safer.
Image source: mshcdn.com