Expectations vs. Reality on Dating Sites: Fat Hairy Girls

Content notice for racial and gender-based slurs as well as rape apologism and fatphobia. This post is heteronormative not because I’m hetereosexual, but because most of my online dating “adventures” have been with men.

I am, for better or for worse, a seasoned veteran of OkCupid. I’ve been using it off and on for almost a decade now. The way in which I have used it and for what end has varied over the years, as has my weight, my appearance, and my sexual orientation.

What hasn’t changed?

  1. For various reasons, I’m not everyone’s non-platonic cup of tea.
  2. Most men on the site claim to be opposed to at least one of the facets of who I am.
  3. I get messages from those men anyway.
  4. Hilarity ensues.

The first time it happened, I was early in my OkCupid career and was hardly looking for trouble. I was IMed by a man whose screen name seemed … questionable. A quick glance at his profile was enough to see that my suspicions were not unfounded. The man had proudly declared himself to be a white supremacist who believed in “keeping the white race pure” and was seeking white women only. When I asked him why he had messaged an obviously non-white person like myself, he said that he was willing to secretly have sex with me, but not to date or marry me.


I told him to fuck off in even less polite words, and he proceeded to call me, the brown woman he had just declared worthy of touching his white penis, an “ugly sand n*gger bitch,” at which point I blocked him.

He was hardly the only hypocrite I encountered. In the ensuing years, thanks to my Nice Guy-influenced view of dating, I made it a point to nicely respond to all messages, even the crude ones, since I was convinced that all expressions of desire were a high compliment. I received abuse in response to my polite messages from men whose profiles included long rants about how angry they were that women never responded to them, not even with a simple “no, thanks.” I also made it a point to initiate messaging with men whose profiles expressed deep frustration about never receiving messages from women…. only to never receive replies from them.

My unflinching, unfailing benefit-of-the-doubt approach on OkCupid ended when I had an exchange that, while it wasn’t the most egregious of the lot, hit enough of the hypocrisy points that it broke me. I stopped caring about seeming appealing and being nice for people who clearly didn’t afford even the smallest shred of basic human consideration for me.

I also started scouring profiles and match question answers for incompatibilities and using them to call out the men who messaged me. Some of them were serious (there is absolutely no situation where someone is obligated to have sex with you, ever.) and some less so (I have many piercings and a lot of the men who message me seem to think that piercings are gross).

The lengths to which men go to deny their own opinions’ relevance to the matter of having sex with and/or dating me are epic. Some of the simple techniques include denial, i.e. “I don’t know who put that on my profile” / “Is that on there? That must be a mistake” (despite having multiple questions answered to similar effect); and blaming the machine, i.e. “You can’t know a person based on a website” / “I don’t agree that websites can determine compatibility” (despite the fact that they’re the ones who provided the information determining compatibility in the first place).

The more advanced techniques are head-scratchers. There is the bizarre interpretation defense, where somehow, words stop meaning what they mean and signify something so outside the pale that even my former poet’s imagination grows taxed. “Obligation doesn’t mean that she’s forced to!” Well, okay, then?

My favorite technique is the “but you aren’t that [bad] thing!” defense. For example, if a man who has messaged me has marked his lack of interest in the overweight, and I politely let him know that my fat self is not the kind of person he’s looking for, he will let me know that he “doesn’t think of” me as “overweight”. I understand that he means to say that he doesn’t consider me to be fat, which carries negative connotation in society, but come on — if a BMI firmly in the “obese” category isn’t “overweight” or at least “fat”, then what is? Furthermore, someone who thinks that “fat” is a valid insult is probably not going to get along with me.

My latest adventure with male preference has to do with body hair. For once, the hypocrisy is low. Many of the men on OkCupid have answered the “Do you think women have an obligation to keep their legs shaved?” question with “Yes”. Since I started openly state on my profile that I no longer remove my body hair, my messages have noticeably slowed. I suppose body hair on people perceived to be women might be among the few remaining legitimate taboos.

Expectations vs. Reality on Dating Sites: Fat Hairy Girls

15 thoughts on “Expectations vs. Reality on Dating Sites: Fat Hairy Girls

  1. 1

    I’m fascinated that you describe body hair on people perceived to be women as a “taboo.” I honestly don’t mean to nitpick your word choice, but I guess I am interested in where preference ends and taboo begins. Is a taboo simply a preference with the weight of the culture behind it? Or is there something more to it? Something I’ve been thinking about in a different context. Thanks as always for a good read.

    P.S. — I wish we could agree on a shorthand for “people perceived to be,” because while the phrase is undoubtedly necessary, it just strikes me as clunky. Maybe “PP?” PP women? PP2B women? I’ll workshop it.

    1. 1.1

      I mean “taboo” in that you’re not supposed to have it if you’re seen as a woman and even if you do have it, you’re supposed to be so embarrassed about it that you never mention it. I’ll have to think about a better word.

  2. 2

    I think “taboo” is a pretty good choice, short of something really cacophonous, like “axiomatic, self-reinforcing cultural norm.” I’ll try to keep my digressions more on point from here on out!

  3. 3

    Well, preferences generally don’t come in the form of “should” sentences. To say “I like shaved armpits/legs/pussies” is a million miles away from “women should shave body part X )because else it’s not good for straight me guy and that is clearly the most important thing here).”
    I think if I ever need to look for a new partner I’ll stop shaving. Sounds like a good litmus test for douches.

      1. Preferences are cultural things.
        Seriously, 20 years ago shaving anything but your legs was absolutely not mainstream, at least here, and then it was really like some do, some don’t.
        You get something, something becomes popular, people prefer it.
        Or look at fetishes. they are very culture specific. I’m pretty sure people in the 18th century had fetishes, too, but I doubt they had a deep unfulfilled longing for rubber and latex

  4. 4

    There is the occasional “I completely misunderstood that question / the answers”, but they are few and far between. There’s also the “all of these answers suck” or “a and b, but I selected a for this reason”, or the much rarer “I answered that a decade ago when I was 18 and that is wrong, let me fix that”.

    But I think it’s a combination of people lying to others and lying to themselves. A good friend of mine answered their questions with what I knew were answers they either felt they were suppose to give (the “correct” answers) or what they wanted to be true about their desires.

  5. 5

    I never liked the “obligation to keep her legs shaved” question on OKCupid, regardless of my own preferences. Mostly because it seems obnoxious to frame my own preferences as somebody else’s obligation. They wouldn’t ask if you find tattoos attractive by asking if you think your partner should be obligated to remain ink-free, so I’m not sure why they framed leg shaving the same way.

    1. 5.1

      Oh, and I forgot my favorite line about “obligations” although I can’t remember where I first heard it. “People are only obligated to die and pay taxes”.

    2. 5.2

      I actually like that phrasing. Any man or woman who thinks that all women have an obligation to keep their legs shaved is a social norm enforcer on a level I don’t want to ever have to deal with even as a friend, let alone as a hook-up or partner.

  6. 7

    I recently played with OKCupid for a day or two. The one thing that really drove me nuts were the binary answers. Do you like this… Yes, No, Don’t care. Maybe it’s the recovering lawyer in me, but in the majority of cases, it really does depend. So, maybe I don’t like hairy legs on a woman; but I’m far more concerned about whether she’s a white supremacist, or a fundagelical. Furthermore, most of the things I really care about are far more nuanced than what can be covered by a yes or no answer.

    In the end, I was really just looking for somebody to chat with, so I decided to blow it off. OTOH, it is occasionally amusing to see whom OKCupid thinks would be a good match.

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