"I'd get messages from men that would say things like, 'Do you want to meet up to have sex?
' And when I'd say no, they'd say, 'Oh, well you're fat, anyway.'" Craig says the criticism would bother her back then, before she'd started her successful fashion blog in 2013, found the body positivity movement, and started embracing her shape. While dating apps are notoriously scary spaces for women in general, with some 57% of female app users reporting some kind of harassment, plus-size women seem to have a tougher time than their "straight-sized" counterparts.
But at 34, she found herself newly divorced and facing a dating scene that she felt focused more on her looks than the one she'd remembered.
"I feel like the entire culture has changed so much," she says. Everyone is just judging based on appearance."That said, the idea that apps are to blame for people's obsession with their prospective partners' looks isn't completely fair.
"We conducted research [internally] that found that there was an increased time spent in evaluating potential profiles that were in monochrome," says Meredith Davis, head of communications for The League.
"We found that not only did users spend more time evaluating each profile, but that [users] were nice and gave people more of a shot when shown the monochrome profiles." Davis didn't provide information on how many profiles were tested or why black-and-white photos, specifically, led to greater engagement, but she says the research showed that interaction with profiles went up "across the board, regardless of the profile user's hair colour, skin tone, body shape, etc." But it's hard to tell at this point how effective these measures really are across the board.
Dating apps don't exist in a vacuum — they're essentially just digital platforms where society's existing views on bodies play out.
The major culprit here, according to Cristina Escobar, the Director of Communications at The Representation Project, is actually the media.
Tinder itself recently launched reactions in conjunction with updated messaging standards, reporting options, and new community guidelines."Ok Cupid has questions that focus on body shape — like, 'Can overweight people still be sexy? "But you see questions like that, and you think to yourself, In a way, she's right.People are attracted to who they are attracted to, which leads back to representation, which turns this whole situation into the proverbial snake eating its own tail."These cultural ideas filter into our day-to-day interactions," Escobar says.Of course, these ideas play out in the workplace, on school campuses, and, in some cases, even in the medical industry.
These changes point to an understanding on the part of app developers about how harassment affects some of its users, particularly those who are plus-size.