Last week, Facebook made a subtle tweak to its 10-year-old logo: The biggest change was the new logo’s use of a single-story “a”. Now, the social network has made yet another modification to its visual aesthetic–and this one is distinctly feminist.
The “friends” icon on Facebook has long featured a man’s silhouette slightly in front of that of a woman, one of her shoulders tucked behind his. The “groups” icon also positions the man in the front, flanked by a woman to his left and another man on his right. Facebook design manager Caitlin Winner’s updated icons, however, put the woman front and center.
In a blog post on Medium, Winner explains why she felt compelled to question Facebook’s design choices. “As a woman, educated at a women’s college, it was hard not to read into the symbolism of the current icon; the woman was quite literally in the shadow of the man, she was not in a position to lean in,” she writes.
In addition to making changes to their placement and shoulders, Winner also gave both the male and female silhouettes updated hairstyles, modernizing the woman’s “Darth Vader-like helmet” and smoothing out the man’s cowlick.
According to Winner, this isn’t the first time that a Facebook employee has struck out on their own to initiate symbolic change. A designer and engineer worked together last year to create new globe icons that didn’t focus only on the western hemisphere–better representing the many Facebook users in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
“As a result of this project, I’m on high alert for symbolism,” Winner writes in her post. “I try to question all icons, especially those that feel the most familiar.”
[via The Guardian]