In a controversial move, dating site OKCupid has updated their approach by allowing users to filter out body types for an additional fee ranging from $4.95 to $10. This filter would make it so that your results only list people who self-identify according to the parameters you select. Opponents charge that this is a discriminatory practice, while proponents say that it is about time dating sites allow this feature.
Image: OKCupid logo
On one hand, when you sign up for a dating site, you get to decide what information people have access to and what they initially learn about you. You can fill in as little or as much as you want. As is the case with OKCupid, you have the option of leaving certain areas blank, so people don't have to know what you consider your body type to be. It is really up to you, so when you put it out there, can you really be upset that people are judging you based on how you present yourself?
On the other hand, one can argue that the site is encouraging physical discrimination in dating, which many say should be on of the least concerns when it comes to finding love. The filter, then, puts more emphasis on physical requirements than personal compatibility.
But...we're allowed preferences, right? The filter also allows people who prefer larger folks to filter out people who identify as "slim" or "slender", so it isn't just an attack on larger people. Then again, given how slimmer people are given aesthetic preferences in society, one can see how this filter will have a more disparate impact on larger people.
“If you were at a bar deciding who you wanted to talk to, of course physical appearance is something you take into account,” says OKCupid creator, Sam Yagan. Of course, he is correct in most cases. Many of us do make initial assessments and determine possible interest based on physical appearances
I think, however, part of why many people prefer online dating is because they feel they don't have to deal with that level of aesthetic pressure. They feel that while physical features matter, they aren't as important as other things. People who meet online tend to spend more time getting to know each other before meeting in person, so the physical features become the icing on the cake. Unless they are catfished, of course, which brings us back to the original point, right?
Maybe this filter is a way for people to avoid being deceived by people they connect with online, as many have been in the past. Maybe people feel that by filtering out the body types they KNOW they aren't attracted to will yield more narrow options and result in less time wasted sifting through profiles. It isn't foolproof; people self-identify which means this still all relies on people's perceptions of themselves and their body types. People can also lie and choose body types they know are opposite of their own.
My biggest concern would be how can you tell if you are being approached by someone who filtered body types or by someone for whom body type isn't a big deal? And... does that make a difference? Would you want to know that someone makes body type such an important preference that paying an extra fee to filter certain types out is worth it? Would it bother you?
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