Cheyenne M. Davis reviews the most popular dating apps for singles and asks the question, are they fat-friendly?
As I continue on my virtual quest to find love, I took some time to evaluate the effectiveness of Tinder and opted to delete it altogether. Interacting with the app gave me zero joy. After my unsavory experience, I decided to diversify my dating apps, being more intentional about what kind of relationship(s) I am looking for and what apps would warrant the best results.
This inspired me to download OkCupid, an app created for folx to find deeper connections and, hopefully, “The One.” Created by Sam Yagan, Chris Coyne, Max Krohn and Christian Rudder, the platform is owned by Match Group, the dating app conglomerate that I discovered to be the owner of Tinder, Hinge and several other services. Knowing this, I was already leery about OkCupid and what it would have to offer. However, I tried to go into the process with an open mind and created a profile.
Creating a Profile
Making a profile on OkCupid was a straightforward yet very lengthy process. It starts off with basic questions such as your age, gender, sexuality, partner preferences, and what type of connection(s) you’re seeking (i.e. friendship, hookups, long and/or short-term relationships). Once that part is completed, you move on to the sections where you add pictures and pick from an endless list of question prompts to answer. Being that I am a Virgo, I knew it was my duty to go above and beyond when filling out my profile, making sure to write myself in a way that comes off as ambitious yet quirky.
As an aside, I love how OkCupid allows you to pick and change your pronouns in your profile. I also appreciate the variety of sexual identities that the app has for you to choose from as well. At this stage, it appeared that the development team was working hard to make the space as inclusive as possible, something I definitely wanted to see with Tinder.
As nice as that is, I still spent what felt like an eternity crafting my profile. Afterward, I took a quick break and went on to the next portion: IQupid.
Now, this was the part of exploring OkCupid that really made me question whether or not I was on a dating app or taking the SAT. The purpose of IQupid is to use responses to a number of questions as data for matching you with potential partners based on likes and “Dealbreakers.” The questions range from basic to thought-provoking, and some examples include queries on love languages, politics, and even COVID precautions and comfortability. However, the question that really struck a chord with me was “If one of your potential matches were overweight, would that be a dealbreaker?”
Referring to larger-bodied people as “overweight” is very problematic and comes from a place of medically oppressive body politics. Additionally, I noticed that there weren’t any questions asking if dating a thin or smaller person is a dealbreaker, so seeing any inquiry conflating fatness with undesirability was an automatic red flag for me.
(Note: I saw this question and another one similar to this a while back when I initially made my profile a few months ago. However, it has since then been removed.)
This question aside, I do feel that IQupid can be a fun way to get to know other people, but it doesn’t really show the full scope of their personality. I also observed that it is a waste of time because most people don’t even answer more than 10 questions in total.
Paid Membership Vs Free Membership
Like Tinder, OkCupid also offers both paid memberships and a free plan. However, this app’s membership model is split into three tiers: free, basic, and premium. OkCupid basic removes in-app ads and allows for users to eliminate options based on their IQupid-generated Dealbreakers. OkCupid premium not only includes all the features of OKCupid basic but also allows you to see who likes your IQupid responses as well as prospective matches regardless of whether you’ve answered those questions or not. As for the free option, that only allows you to chat with matches. All tiers of membership enable you to search for people based on their race, height, sexual orientation, and other filters. It also features the same swipe system as their “hot or not” cousin, Tinder.
I have used both the OkCupid Premium and free memberships, and comparable to my experience with Tinder, I really don’t see a difference between the two. In terms of my interactions on the app, I don’t have many matches, nor have I received a large number of messages. When it comes to the limited experiences I’ve had on OkCupid however, it has been a bit of a mixed bag. For instance, a small number of messages that I’ve received have been thoughtful and really showed that people have taken the time to read my profile.
On the flip side, I have found that most of the people that do like me and send me messages are either your quintessential denizens of the Fat Fetishist faction who only have “Message me to learn more” on their profile, or they are Incels whose IQupid answers align with alt-right ideals. For example, A large chunk of the commentary I have received has come from white men who “love my size” and are looking for me to “force them into submission” or perform free labor to teach them how to be better lovers to Black women. Unsurprisingly, I also get a lot of unsolicited invitations to “sit on their faces” and engage in a slew of other sexual acts. Honestly, it’s giving “same ish different platform.” Y’all know the vibes!
Oddly enough, OkCupid has triggered a resurgence of past partners reaching out to reconnect with me. I’ve awkwardly ran into a few former lovers, had some small talk here and there, and even exchanged numbers to yet again have more small talk that leads to nowhere. It’s a cute kiki in the moment, but definitely a long shot from what I’m looking for.
Lastly, a lot of men on OkCupid have horrible offline behavior. My absolute worst experience on the app was with a man who actually messaged me on Instagram. Initially, everything seemed fine. He briefly complimented my looks, and then the conversation went left after he mentioned how I looked as if “I lost weight” in my pictures and that “I’m lucky to be the only person during COVID that hasn’t gained weight.” Naturally, I was taken aback by his comment and told him that it was inappropriate, only to be met with being called “fragile, triggered and b*tcy [sic].” I gladly corrected his spelling to include the missing h prior to blocking and reporting him on both Instagram and OkCupid.
To be 100 percent transparent, I’m giving OkCupid a fat friendliness rating of -10/5. The app is not only blatantly fatphobic, but is also the antithesis of what I think an app designed to “find love” should be. I appreciate the attempts to make the app more sex positive and gender inclusive. However, when it comes to making the space including of fat folx, having questions that relate fatness to being unattractive is highly discouraging and doesn’t leave room for larger-bodied individuals to feel seen or desired when using the platform. I most definitely don’t approve of being sexualized or being met with violent behavior for setting boundaries on how I’d like to be treated.
Now, I know you’ve said and are still thinking, “Cheyenne, if these online platforms are causing you such strife, then why do you continue to use them?” Although this is a valid question, I think it’s also a good time to reiterate that dating as a fat, Black femme is difficult AF in general, and finding a space where we can do so freely is equally challenging. Divesting from negativity is always a good choice, but not acknowledging the harm and lack of diversity that these apps refuse to address doesn’t help to make the experience more equitable or even enjoyable, either.
OkCupid looks good on paper, and some may even say that it looks good on screen due to having an “aesthetically pleasing” color scheme and app interface, but the proof is most definitely in the pixelated pudding. This app has denied and will continue to find ways to deny fat people access to having fruitful experiences on the platform, and it shows.