Yesterday I came across an article on EliteDaily. You can read it here. The title says it all: “Hot Girl Wears Fat Suit On Tinder Dates To F*ck With Shallow Guys.”
It included a video of a girl putting on a fat suit, goofing around by playing with her new fat stomach and making faces after they attached her new chin. (Already a bad sign…) Then we watch as her Tinder dates arrive, stunned and awkward. They comment that she doesn’t look like her photos. They say they don’t like being lied to. They leave.
They did this same social experiment but with the roles reversed, and the results were different. Many of the women mentioned that the man looked different from his photos, but none left. This is not to say that men are shallow and women don’t care about looks. I’m sure all those women were shocked, just like the men were, to find a heavier guy waiting for them on their date. Who knows why they stayed, planned second dates, and even kissed the guy goodbye. They could have just been being nice. They could have backed out of the second dates later on.
And how either sex reacted to their expectations not being met isn’t the point. At the beginning of the video, the situation is introduced by these statistics:
“The number one fear for women dating online is that they’re going to meet a serial killer. The number one fear for men? That the woman they meet is going to be fat.”
The point is that “social experiments” like this one are not funny. I know this is supposed to be lighthearted and that fat suits are silly (neither suit in the videos looks particularly real, especially the guy’s), but humor comes at an expense. Here, the expense itself is the issue.
Women are hearing that a man’s biggest fear is that she will not be skinny.
The thing is, we are already hearing this in our heads. We tell it to ourselves. My friend Annie wrote a fantastic post about negative self-talk and the toll it can take, and that’s without anyone saying anything to us out loud. Our insecurities may not always stem from our bodies, but I’d venture to say all of us have some insecurity there. I mean, if we learned anything from Mean Girls…
The worst part of things like this on the Internet is that they confirm our insecurities. Out loud. And, to make matters even more frustrating, this video in particular takes an issue that is wholly real and painful and mocks it. Because ultimately, the girl in the video will take off the fat suit after this “experiment.” What are the fat girls supposed to do when the shallow men weren’t pretending for the experiment, too?
I wish I knew an answer for that. Yes, I do fully believe that the guys worth our time are not the ones who would leave a date because someone was heavier than her photos suggested. But I also don’t think that’s enough.
That leaves the problem of those men or women who would leave a date. The lack of basic kindness there just breaks my heart. I’d argue that, going into a date, nothing is required except kindness. I don’t care if you decide not to go on a second date. I don’t care if you actually do think the man or woman across from you is repulsive because they’re bigger than you think it is acceptable to be. (Although I hope you don’t.)
I do care whether you stay. Of course, if the date is making you uncomfortable for other serious reasons, by all means—leave. But if you find yourself reacting only to body type, I care whether you check yourself. I care whether you listen to the person sitting across from you. I hope that you are kind. I hope you treat the person you are talking to as if he or she has a right to be on a date (because he or she absolutely does).
I hope you compliment them. I hope that, by staying, you remind them they are welcome in this dating world that consistently tells them they have no place there. I hope you remember that the person who put him- or herself out there, just like you did, deserves your respect.
I hope you give it freely.