I don’t think I realized the dichotomy of my existence in my body until I first downloaded Tinder in 2014.
I was 24, fresh out of a five-year relationship that basically defined my early teenage years and my sexual history. Oh, and I was fat.
No one could have prepared me for that first day on Tinder. The swipe, the options, the faces, just the number of people that kept popping up on my screen. In one hour on the application, I had received 100 “likes”.
They tell you there are millions of fish in the sea, but what they don’t tell you is that 95% of those fish are just waiting to insult or fetishize your entire existence in one go. single sentence.
“Baby, you have a body waiting to be fucked.”
“I like your big boobs.”
“I matched you for your face, then went to undo once I saw your body.”
“I would say we are going to have dinner at the restaurant but it seems that you have already eaten.”
And the classic: “I don’t date fat chicks, but I’ll come fuck you.”
I wish I could say these were isolated events, or that it’s a better world eight years later, but for the most part, that really hasn’t changed. Dating apps have become a destination for fat people open to constant humiliation and hurtful messages and a place where we are reduced to a single identity: our fatness.
As someone who’s spent most of her adult life swiping, liking and flirting on almost every mainstream dating app, I feel like I’ve earned the right to say: people love to hate people. fat, even when they try to sleep with them.
And is anyone surprised? We live in a world where we equate thinness with godliness, so why should our romantic lives be any different? When it’s still okay to openly hate fat people, why would I think random strangers would treat me with respect, especially when there are no consequences beyond a block and delete? Why should I expect to be accepted when fat people aren’t even reflected in the images these platforms use to promote their apps?
Of course, this experience is not limited to those of us with larger bodies. These issues can be even worse for those with other marginalized identities, especially women of color, who are also susceptible to discrimination, fetishization, and, to put it simply, hate, by trying to use dating apps.
Over 60% of American women are considered tall or “fat” people., Yet when I look at these companies’ promotional media, commercials, online dating shows, or Instagram feeds, I don’t see even a hint of body diversity. I don’t see myself reflected in a place that should be focused on attracting all single people looking for love (or the next one-night stand).
Out of curiosity, I grabbed the Instagram feed from Tinder. After 25 minutes and after viewing 154 individual posts, I found a singular reel of a visibly larger body. A 154 article on what could be considered the most popular and widely used dating site in the country.
The message is clear: you are not welcome here. Or perhaps more precisely: we don’t care about the safety, promotion or acceptance on our dating app of anyone who doesn’t fit Eurocentric and fatphobic ideologies of beauty… but yes, we’ll gladly take your $39.99 for a monthly subscription.
So when FeeldCo, a dating site I use and love, asked me to collaborate and be a face in their new campaign around “Radical Honesty” by starring in a media reel social, the importance has not been lost on me.
For me, it was a chance to create positive change in the communities I care about and to be the face of an industry that I’ve felt left out of my entire life. The reaction to the campaign on social media has been almost entirely positive, giving me hope that the world is ready to see fat people not just as the best friend, but also as the main character who goes on dates, kisses with random cuties and lives authentically. real life.
“Fat” is just one of the amazing adjectives I would use to describe myself. Having full autonomy without my fat being scrutinized or tokenized is exactly where I want to be in my job, my platform, and my love life.
Am I saying that Feeld is a refuge for all those who are part of marginalized bodies? No. Unfortunately, at this point, I cannot name a single place where I feel completely safe or allowed to fully exist within my identities.
But a dating app with a focus on highlighting all the wonderful people who actually use their product and in their community is an important step towards inclusion. I am very happy that my face is part of it.
Because after more than six years of verbal and emotional abuse just for looking for a Friday night date as a fat woman, I want to support the businesses that support me. I want to feel safe and most importantly, I want to be allowed to have my body be the least interesting thing about me.
You can follow Megan Ixim on Instagram.
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