Dating app “preferences” encourage racism and discrimination

Illustration by Sammy Newman

Bryce Randall, Contributing Writer

As college students, many of us use dating apps. They provide convenience in meeting people you find attractive. However, something I have noticed recently is the inclusion of  “preferences” in bios that are unnecessary, exclusive and sometimes racist. 

Having a type of person you are generally interested in is OK, however, broadcasting that you are not interested in an entire racial group is not. Preferences on dating apps such as “white guys only” are racist and can be hurtful to excluded groups. 

I doubt the people who post their “preferences” and “specific types” stop to consider the consequences of their actions. As with most social platforms on the internet, dating apps provide a screen to hide behind. It is easier to say things because, in most cases, we don’t have to deal with the repercussions of our words. For the most part, we don’t see how our choices affect other people. 

Unfortunately, as a black male who occasionally uses dating apps, I get to feel these effects first hand. Beyond discouraging me from messaging the person, these “preferences” make me question my own attractiveness and desirability in the dating world. I am made to feel like no matter what I do, the most unchangeable part of myself will always be seen as ugly.

Racial preferences validate insecurities in a situation where the victim has no control. People cannot change the color of their skin, and they should not have a desire to. Nobody should feel ostracized based on their appearance — especially when it’s something as natural as skin color or hair texture. 

Preferences are a form of modern discrimination and enforce outdated perspectives on racial groups. “White guys only” generalizes minorities as unattractive and unable to fit the mold of society’s romantic fantasy. 

There is a simple solution to the problem at hand: Instead of rejecting everyone from a specific group before they’ve even talked to you, reject people on a case-by-case basis. If you are not interested in engaging with someone, tell them directly — and if they don’t take the hint, block them. There is no need to classify an entire racial group as unattractive. Instead of putting negativity out there for everyone to see, keep it to yourself. There is no reason to put out a message making everyone of a certain ethnicity feel bad about themselves.

The same goes for statements such as  “no chubs.” To you, it may seem like you’re specifying that you prefer to be with someone who has a more toned body. In reality, this is body shaming. Excluding people who don’t fit your idea of an attractive body is frankly quite shallow. Rather than judging a person on their appearance, take the time to politely decline their advances in a conversation. People on the other side of the screen have feelings, too. 

If someone approached you in public, and you were not attracted to them because of their weight or skin color, you wouldn’t say “sorry I am not attracted to black people,” or “no thanks, I don’t like fat people,” because statements like this are rude and discriminatory. 

At the end of the day, “preferences” are purely superficial. By using them, you aren’t taking the time to get to know someone, and if you only care about someone’s appearance, how can you expect to get a relationship out of a dating app?

While we are on the subject of narrowmindedness, if you are taking the time to send someone a message, do not give microaggressive compliments. A microaggression is a comment or action that subtly or unconsciously expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group. 

Do not send me messages saying I am the only black guy you have ever found attractive. Thank you so much for the wildly backhanded compliment, but excuse me if I’m not flattered by your generalization that other black men are all unattractive.  

The lesson in all this is something we’ve been told since childhood: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. Dating apps are supposed to provide a space where we can meet other people and establish relationships. In these apps —  as with interactions in reality — you do not have a right to generalize attractiveness based on race or any other superficial discriminatory qualities.

2 Comments

  1. Dating apps maximize our freedom to choose a sexual partner of our exact specifications. One the consequences of enjoying that freedom is contending with an environment where rejection is more frequent and arbitrary than it is in real life. It’s unavoidable that rejections will stack up over time, and when they do it’s easy to get bitter about it, but it’s not you. It’s a consequence of the construct of the medium.

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