After my dealings with BLK, I realized that I gave it more credit than I should have. I inevitably kept running into many of the same issues that I endured in the past: the chubby chasers who virtually run amok, the sexual solicitation that followed a salutation, and the proverbial “cricket chirping” that could be heard in DMs that lacked a response. However, the profiles that I encountered on the app were emoji-filled, entertaining, and did provide a much-needed laugh after my experiences with the previous options. Now that it is March, and in the spirit of International Non-Men’s Month, I felt that it was necessary to discuss an app that was created with my needs in mind. I have come to the realization that most of these apps are not only created by men but also are structured in a way to appease the male gaze, and in all these spaces I experienced a lot of fetishization and objectification. This being said, what better app to revisit than Bumble?
An app with a “for women, by women” approach, Bumble was made in 2014 by Whitney Wolfe Herd, who was one of the co-founders of Tinder prior to leaving and making her own platform. Taking the swipe influence from its predecessor, what makes Bumble unique is that it “puts the power in women’s hands” where it only allows ladies to start the conversations with matches. After learning Wolfe Herd’s story, I thought that it was cool to see a woman create an app with men not in mind and decided to give this app a try.
Creating a Profile
Creating a profile on Bumble is pretty easy and straightforward. Like the other Match Group contenders, you pick a series of photos, answer some question prompts, and fill out your personal information. What sets Bumble apart is that you can develop three separate profiles: one for Bumble Date, which is for dating, one for Bumble Bizz, which is for networking, and one for Bumble BFF, which is to connect with people platonically. For the sake of my “research,” I am only focusing on Bumble Date, but I think that it’s pretty cool to see how there are multiple uses, including romantic partnership, on this app.
Free vs. Paid Subscription
Bumble offers three tiers of membership: premium, boost, and a free membership. With the premium subscription, some of the features include travel mode, which allows you to change your location, offers advanced swipe filters, and unlimited swipes. Boost allows you one spotlight, or the ability for your platform to be boosted per subscription period, and the free option only allows you to create a profile and have limited swipes. Both paid subscriptions have weekly and monthly plans, and they range in price from around $8/week to $32.99/month. Honestly, the free subscription of Bumble really isn’t enough, and the paid subscriptions are the only way to maximize your usage of the platform.
In terms of my experience, I will admit that Bumble hasn’t left the best impression on me. Demographically, Bumble doesn’t have the most diverse user base. Upon swiping on the app, I noticed that this beehive was teeming with white, “finance bro” types. Moreover, from the little number of matches that I got on this app, this group was with whom I matched with the most. Although I tend to date mostly POCs, I found that I hardly received any matches from them, which was slightly disheartening.
However, most of my interactions with folx on this app stopped at matches. As previously mentioned, Bumble’s model works on women messaging men first (which is very binary and still very much men-centric by placing the responsibility on them to continue the conversation, but I digress), and I can only count a handful of times where I received responses to my messages. Most either let the message expire in 24 hours, or they automatically unmatched me.
The moments I did get responses, however, were very fatphobic. The first situation was a man telling me that “I needed to be in the gym in order to be with him.” In the second instance, I matched with a man who described himself as a self-proclaimed foodie who enjoyed sushi and Thai food, and I messaged him on this premise, only to be told that he was afraid that I would eat him. With both situations, I unmatched and reported both profiles and shared my experience on Instagram, warning my following of the vile behavior that takes place on this app. When people engaged with these posts, I was alarmed to see some of the comments from other fat femmes experiencing similar encounters.
Bumble reached out to me to rectify the situation and claimed that they removed these users from their platform. Shortly after, in a January 28, 2021 press release, Bumble put out a new user agreement that bans body shaming on their app. If a user is reported for this behavior, they are removed and given information on dismantling fatphobia and working towards body neutrality. In addition to this, Bumble also started making more social media content, including some that feature fat, Black femmes that highlights their monumental body-shaming ban and why it is important.
These improvements are all fine and great. However, what truly surprised me is that a few weeks ago, I surprisingly came across the profile of the man I reported for telling me that I needed to go to the gym, despite being told that he was removed. This leads me to believe that his removal was a lie, or he was removed and found a way to make another account.
To be honest, I’m giving Bumble a fat-friendliness rating of 2/5. Even though the app has taken some strides to combat fatphobia, they still have some more work to do in order to make the app more inclusive of fat folx. By hiring us to work in their spaces, whether it be in the capacity as a Bumble team member or for contractual and influencer work. In addition to this, it’s one thing to ban someone and send them literature on helping them unpack their own personal fat bias and internalized fatphobia, but we all know from my experience that previously removed people recreate profiles all the time. In short, although it’s giving “white feminist Tinder,” Bumble has made some improvements, but still has some more work to do in order to ensure utmost safety and inclusivity on their platform.