Fat Suits and Dating Sites

What happens when you set people up to fail? They tend to fail. So, if you create profiles on a dating site using thin, attractive photos of people, then put them in fat suits for the date, is it any surprise that it’s not what people expect? I’m not making this up. It was actually done. I saw a post about this “social experiment” at another blog, Godless Cranium. I had to give my own response.

I’ll start in with my opinion on this kind of sophomoric prank, because that’s what it is. It is not a “social experiment”. It’s just a prank. It seems to want to offer some moral perspective, but I can’t take a moral lesson seriously when it comes from someone who creates phony dating profiles, blatantly lies and uses hidden cameras on unsuspecting people.

That’s not the part that irritates me. It’s not the part that irritates me enough to post on my blog, anyway. There is an article at the Huffington Post that offers a seriously skewed perspective of this prank.

“A hidden camera was set up at the date site to record the reactions of each of the five men she met during the day. The results were nothing short of awful. Responses ranged from quizzical to angry.”

Okay. I could talk about that, but I’m still not offended enough to bother.

“A man doesn’t have to be attracted to a woman to respect her, yet that’s exactly what unfolds in the video. Just because a woman is fat doesn’t mean she isn’t sexy — and encountering a fat woman rather than a thin one does not relieve anyone from practicing human decency.”

Now we’re getting a little silly. They weren’t upset that she was fat. They were upset that she posted pictures of herself looking like a bikini model when it wasn’t the truth. It’s not as though they were just spectacularly rude to a random fat woman. They were drawn into a meeting for a date by a woman shallow enough to be incredibly dishonest about herself. She even claims that the picture is not too old!

I don’t want to make too strong a defense of the men in the video though. They didn’t exactly handle the situation well, and they don’t exactly strike me as good guys that I’d like to have a beer with. Besides, I still haven’t gotten to the part that annoys me.

“Simple Pickup conducted the same exact experiment with the roles reversed, using a male participant and female Tinder matches, and the results were shockingly different. When the Tinder matches met the man who was made up to appear heavier in person, they were not nearly as blunt as their male counterparts. Although each one acknowledged he looked different from his photos, most were nice.”

Shockingly different? No. At most they were slightly different. Most were nice? No, no they weren’t. And I don’t blame them. It wouldn’t matter if they had been perfectly well behaved though. Even if the women had reacted as though nothing were wrong, even if the man’s fat suit made no difference whatsoever, the defense of women here is ridiculous. Women are not as superficially affected by appearances; nowhere in the article does that phrase appear, but it is the end message. And it isn’t true.

You want to complain about how men judge women by their looks? Go right ahead. You want to tell me how it shouldn’t matter as much to men? I’m right there with you. You want to tell me that women aren’t the same? You could fertilize a field with that.

Can I offer any proof against the Simple Pickup “experiment”? Sure. If they can conduct a social experiment on their own terms with no real study or controls, then I can do the same. Mine won’t take place as briefly though. It will cover the course of several years in a single man’s life. I started this experiment against my own will, but it proceeded anyway. You can’t stop genetics. See, there was a time that I had a full head of hair. When I started losing my hair to a great extent, I started cutting it close. I couldn’t stop it, so I embraced it. Did that make a difference in my life? More specifically, did it have any impact on my interactions with women? Would you guess none at all? Would you suppose that a bald head is unimportant to women? You’d be wrong. You wouldn’t be a little wrong; you’d be entirely wrong. The amount of attention and the kind of attention I get from women now is quite a bit different from when I had hair. It’s a whole lot harder to get a date, I can tell you. So when anyone wants to tell me that looks don’t matter to women, I can only laugh .I’ve heard the idea before, that women are not as judgmental or superficial as men. You’re saying that to a bald guy. Do you have any idea how ridiculous that is?

It’s not just hair that makes a difference in the dating world. Men I know who are overweight suffer for it socially. I don’t care if these videos and this article want to try to prove otherwise. Women do not treat fat guys and thin guys the same. Not by a long shot. It’s okay to complain about shallow men. It’s even okay to complain about men and leave women untouched. It is not acceptable to say that men are shallow, but women aren’t. If you’re looking for a specific answer, then you’ll find it, but that doesn’t make it true.

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