Style Voices

Friday 24 May 2019

Katie Byrne: ''Fat-fishers' aren't the only people telling lies on dating sites'


Appy days: Online dating is full of liars
Appy days: Online dating is full of liars
Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

It was surprising to see a number of brands get into the spirit of April Fools' Day on Monday.

After all, in an era of fake news and internet mob rule, it takes a brave company to pull a prank on their unsuspecting customers.

The trouble with jokes is that they can backfire spectacularly, especially when they're disruptive, distasteful or - as the marketing team at Tinder recently discovered - even slightly plausible.

A couple of days before April Fools' Day, the popular dating platform introduced a fictitious "height verification badge (HVB)".

"It's come to our attention that most of you 5'10ers out there are actually 5'6"," explained the company in a blog post.

"The charade must stop. This type of dishonestly doesn't just hurt your matches - it hurts us, too."

The post on "height-fishing" (a play on cat-fishing) went on to explain the far-fetched science behind the height verification tool, but the joke was lost on a number of men who took to social media forums to debate the glaring double standards.

If Tinder are going to introduce a height verification tool aimed at men, they argued, well then they ought to introduce a weight verification tool aimed at women.

"I have friends who have been fat-fished," explained one Reddit user. "That's essentially the same damn thing. Why the hell should guys show their height if women won't show their weight?" he asked.

The backlash wasn't quite the reaction that Tinder's marketing team was anticipating, but this dating site user raised a valid point nonetheless.

Both sexes lie about their physical attributes on dating sites, and we can't call out men who add an ambitious extra two inches to their height without calling out women who post photos of themselves when they were 20 pounds lighter.

By the same token, we can't highlight this widespread misrepresentation without exploring the culture that cultivates it.

The truth is that the online dating world can be an intimidating place for people who don't fit prevailing standards of beauty.

Small men encounter women who openly discriminate against height. They read spiky bios that tell them to 'Swipe left if you're under six foot' and they realise, fairly quickly, that they'll have to get creative if they want to boost their chances of success.

Obese women, on the other hand, are sick of being fetishised. When they post honest photos of their physiques, they get bombarded with messages from men who want to fulfil their sexual fantasies with a one-night-only dalliance.

Considered from this point of view, it's easy to understand why many avoid full-body photographs altogether.

Of course, it's also worth pointing out that the online dating industry is rife with deception - and misrepresentations about height and weight are only the tip of the iceberg.

Okay, so you may never have lied about the big three (height, weight, age) but what about the finer details? Are you really the intrepid adventurer that your dating bio describes, or are you in fact a home bird who went as far as Tijuana on her J1?

Are you a bona fide fitness enthusiast, or are you still resting on your laurels after completing your first and only 5k run in 2015?

Are you truly a 'good vibes only', 'easy-going' type or, being honest, are you a worst-case-scenario catastrophiser who lies awake at night thinking of the many and varied ways that you could lose your job?

We tend to think of 'height-fishing' and 'fat-fishing' as the most cunning forms of dating deception, but the truth is that we all know how it is to portray a fantasy version of ourselves online.

Like selling a house, we overstate the positives, understate the negatives and completely ignore the structural damage and defects.

The potential buyer will eventually discover all the faults - the shifting foundations, the dodgy wiring and the cracks in the walls - so what's the point in declaring them from the outset?

The people who lie about their height and weight on dating sites are following the exact same rationale. The only difference is that they get found out a lot sooner.

Irish Independent

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