“What do you regard as most humane? To spare someone shame.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
So in the last episode, I talked about the questionable decision of returning to dating via the internets, and by extension the insidious power of denial. It wasn’t really so easy to get off the hook as this though. I got into a meaty discussion with a reader about this that really got me thinking (thanks by the way!)
Congratulations on the pedestrian accomplishment of setting aside your worries long enough to post a profile to a dating site! The committee will start planning your parade immediately! I had the profile, but there was no reason at this point for anyone to look at it. The site I was using employs an algorithm to predict compatibility by means of how users answer questions and how important those answers are to them. To be fair, most of the people I’ve associated with that ranked high with me I have thought were pretty decent people if nothing else, but that may be more an argument for the power of confirmation bias than it is an endorsement of their algorithm. Anyway, I had to start answering these questions if I was to “bait the hook,” as it were.
There are literally thousands of questions ranging over any number of topics. The more of these questions you answer, the better it will be able to theoretically predict your matches, so I answered a lot of them.
Some of these questions made my bile duct twitch, like “Can overweight people still be sexy?”
Wow. There should be a warning before some of these sorts of questions, a “hair-trigger advisory” sort of thing.
So, a distressingly common answer to this question is “no.” Which translates to “If you’re heavy, this is not going to work, no matter what kind of person you are.” That implies a whole boatload of negative assumptions that go along with the weight. Everything is looking solid and compatible and then you run into a question like this, which almost definitely renders all other points of compatibility null and void. Further, most people would not say “NO FATTIES PLZ LOL” in their profile outright, so you have to dig through the questions to discover how they really feel, since people are generally more open and less filtered there.
It was enough to make me grit my teeth and click away angrily just about every time. But the thing is, no matter how much I may find it distasteful (read: extremely), people are allowed to judge like that.
I have to balance this with the notion that these are my assumptions about who they are as a person based on that hair-trigger. Assumptions fueled by years of experience, but those experiences may well be tainted too. Am I saying this strictly from the view of a fatty scorned? Hell hath no fury…
The truth is, I don’t know what it’s like to be on the other side of the fence. I think about size a lot because my weight has always been a struggle. If I’d always been naturally thin, would I be one of those assholes?
What defines attraction is subjective, but I think it’s worth investigating why certain kinds of people are so attractive (or not), and I suspect most people haven’t done that. It’s like Dustin Hoffman’s reaction to playing a woman in Tootsie when he realized he wasn’t a conventionally attractive woman, and he was shocked and saddened by how invisible he became. Even more so, he realized he would have ignored a woman who looked like he did in drag.
I’m sure that one of my six readers is ready to take me to task here, citing “Okay, this is just what/who I find attractive. Does that make me a bad person?” No, it doesn’t. Taking a step back, it’s not about pointing fingers, it’s about consciously acknowledging the shame culture we live in. It’s about the fact that the existence of the question makes me twitchy and the answers make me angry, because I feel devalued by it. There are myriad social complications that come with obesity, and the last thing a person struggling with them needs is external validation of all the hate they’re already giving themselves.
There are lots of challenging things about dating. Twisting myself into knots about my appearance before we’ve even met should not be one of them.
Twould appear I’ve gotten off-track here, not surprisingly. Those first few weeks out in the irradiated wastelands of online dating were strange and silent, but that was all about to change when one day someone responded.
It would be a crime of the highest degree if I borrowed an image from one of my favorite things on the internets without plugging their Kickstarter campaign, which marks the first non-game campaign I have supported. Joey and Emily work hard to provide you with sucker-punches to the feels, three times a week. It’s a chewing-on-a-cold-sore kind of hurt. It’s a scratch-til-you-bleed-hurt. If you like your humor dark, subtle, and occasionally painful, throw some of your money at these two using the link above.
I promised “surprising results” last time, and I don’t think any of the above is particularly surprising. I didn’t expect to take this path, but I think it’s important that I did. Come back again to hear what happened next. SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers are for suckers.