By Samantha Mitchell
I’ve tried every major dating app you can imagine in my quest for “The One” (or as I like to say – One of The Ones). I’ve seen it ALL – the good, the meh, and the wtf. Chances are that you have too, considering 30% of American adults have used a dating app. There’s oodles of articles out there to recommend which dating applications to try out, but so far none of them have really given the perspective of a 21st Century Fat Woman.
Most dating apps were built to attract a 25 year old straight-size woman and the average 30 year old cisgender, hetero man. I’m a 35 year old white, hetero, cisgender, Fat Woman, so my experiences on a dating app are going to be a little different. If you’re a Fat Woman debating whether or not to give it a try, go for it! Whether you’re swiping, double tapping, winking, or liking, there are useful and awful things about every dating app.
Bumble has been around for about five years now, and it lives up to the hype. I have found more matches on Bumble that I actually enjoyed meeting than with any other app. A swiping-only app, Bumble focuses more on the woman’s point of view and experience, so all matches’ conversations must be initiated by the woman. This rules out so much harassment and noise. You get fewer matches and conversations, but it’s quality over quantity. The only time I ever received a wholly inappropriate message, I reported it and the issue was addressed within the hour. I’ve had at least 3 dates each with four guys from this app, one of them was a several months long relationship. Which I find to be an indicator of successful algorithms.
Dating App Tip: Take pictures outside in natural light. Don’t be afraid to post at least one full body shot.
One of the oldest dating apps of the bunch – OKCupid has evolved a lot since it started. The hallmark of this app is its heavy emphasis on information and compatibility testing. You can spend hours going through their quiz functionality and entering more information to make higher matches. This app also has an added swiping feature for a simpler experience. OKC is very inclusive for non-binary and queer people, and welcoming of the kink community. Messaging is iffy, because anyone can message or comment on anyone’s profile, opening you up to the possibility of gross messages. For what it’s worth, this app generated three big relationships for me, which fell apart entirely because MEN (amiright?) and not because of the app itself. Thumbs up!
Dating App Tip: Never put your full name or workplace on your app profile.
Ok, ok…. I’m 35, but I made my mom (a curvy, beautiful 71 year old) an account on OurTime to try to open her up to dating again. This app was built for Boomers, for sure. Think lots of “Must Love Dogs” and “The Symphony” types. One thing is for sure from my experiences as the administrator for her account: The Medicare Set is a very friendly place for curvy or Fat Women. Mom had tons of matches from this app of varying degrees of quality and interest. If you’re an active senior, this is definitely a great place to meet other silver foxes.
Dating App Tip: It’s always a good idea to do a phone call or video chat before meeting up, especially amidst a global pandemic.
Even your Nana knows what Tinder is! Tinder has a reputation for being a hook-up app, and that’s not wrong. This app revolutionized the dating app scene years ago with the concept of simple swiping left or right on a profile picture only. Within a millisecond, we can decide to say “Hey baby,” or “Thank you, next.” The bio sections are a meager few dozen characters in length, with emphasis on photos instead of information. Messaging only can happen when two people both swipe right on each other, and in my heteronormative experience, Tinder men swipe right on just about everyone. A downside of this app is messaging – men can message first. My Tinder messages have more pictures of male genitalia in them than my college anatomy textbook. Sadly, I received the most fatphobic comments from matches on Tinder. The sheer volume of users is the best benefit here – the stats are on your side. One January, I put on my Tinder that I just needed someone to take out my Christmas tree for bulk trash day. Not only did I find someone, he even vacuumed up the needles!
Dating App Tip: Ask your best friend how they would write your bio and use it as inspiration for your own!
A relative newcomer to the dating app scene, I have heard so many straight-size, 20-something people tell me what wonderful luck that they have had on this app. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a Fat Woman or if it’s because I’m over 30, but this has not been my experience. Hinge gives you question prompts instead of a general profile, so you answer inane questions like “3 Things I Can’t Live Without” or “Never Have I Ever” instead of anything substantial about your life or personality. Try it and see, but I could take or leave this one. My first date from Hinge was such an epic fail – we mutually agreed on our loathing of each other and wished we could have known more personality info before agreeing to meet. We knew we shared a love of tacos and Target, but that was all.
Dating App Tip: Include a question or prompt in your bio – like “Tell me your favorite guilty pleasure movie.” or “What’s the best spot to hang out in (insert City here)” – you aren’t a horse, so you don’t want a lot of “hey” in your inbox. This is a great conversation starter.
Match & eHarmony
I’m grouping the two paid services together because my experience with them has been roughly the same. Both of them are a waste of time and money, because most of the users also exist on free dating app sites, as well. Their algorithms of matching make no sense, and didn’t match up at all with what I was expecting. I have heard from two of my over-40 friends that they have had much more quality matches on these apps than the free ones, but no long-term success. Additionally, these apps have the most profile pictures of a guy on a boat holding a poor, dying fish up to his face.
Dating App Tip: Always tell a friend where you are going when you meet up with someone from an app. Screenshot their profile and phone number and send it to your friend so they have it handy.
WooPlus & Bustr
These are lesser known apps, but I wanted to include them in the breakdown because they are marketed as dating apps specifically for plus/Fat people. I group them together because they are nearly indistinguishable in format. I do not recommend either of these if you are looking to actually date. The free version offers absolutely no filters, so you can end up seeing messages from men literally thousands of miles from you, of any age or status, who you have not matched/liked. Most of the men on these apps are not actually Fat themselves, but are looking specifically for “BBW,” primarily for hookups. I struggle with the concept of being fetishized as a Fat Woman, though I think there are likely some women who are perfectly fine with it. Within the first 24 hours of being on both of these apps, I had 50 messages in total, half of which were from would-be sugar daddies or very small men who asked me to sit on them. If that’s your kink – this is the app for you! If not, you may want to pass.
Dating App Tip: If you’re interested, give it a try!
There are dozens more apps that exist out there, and the perfect one has yet to be created. The key to a successful dating app experience is to be as honest as you can and reveal as much of your true self as possible. Don’t be afraid to post that full body pic or go unfiltered – you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, no matter how Insta-worthy you are. Don’t be afraid to be specific about what you want, but be open to people you wouldn’t normally pick in a lineup. Swipe safe and wear a mask!