Writer and marketing guru Sarah Sapora was scrolling through potential suitors when she stumbled across a 93% match. Intrigued, she decided to "dig deeper" by peeping at the answers to his “match questions” when she stumbled across this:
In an article for Plus Model Magazine, Sapora eloquently broke down why this question (and several others pertaining to body-type preference) is deeply flawed:
"You see, the issue I have is that one simple word — DISGUSTED. Disgusted. Let’s review the meaning of this one small, highly powerful word," she wrote.
And this isn't the first time OkCupid made its service questionably fat-phobic. If you're willing to invest an extra $5-$10 in it, your options for selectiveness increase.
In 2013, OkCupid allowed users to weed out dates by body type, allowing candidates to self-identify and deselect options from "skinny" to "curvy" to "used up."
One of the co-founders of OkCupid, Sam Yagan, defended this feature, saying it serves as a realistic dating option.
"If you were at a bar deciding who you wanted to talk to, of course physical appearance is something you take into account," Yagan told ABC News.
And before readers could get in a tizzy about how this question is "merely asking you to establish your preference," Sapora rightfully pointed out the difference in language between preference-based questions.
Note how the left question is worded neutrally, while the right question implies a bias by using "still sexy" versus simply saying "sexy."
She provided over 20 examples of biased wording, but admitted there were still hundreds of questions she could have referenced, before making this incredible point:
"Nearly one third of the world’s population is overweight or obese. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong. It’s just a fact. That’s a lot of people. And those people deserve the SAME LEVEL OF RESPECT that everyone else gets. Nothing special. Nothing privileged; they simply deserve to be seen without bias, the same as everyone else."
In an statement issued to Revelist, OkCupid CEO Elie Seidman revealed that he feels that these questions are necessary and prevent users from uncomfortable face-to-face interactions:
"Our questions are an essential part of OkCupid for many reasons. Most importantly, the answers they garner help OkCupid members connect with people they'll really click with — answers appear on user profiles, so members can determine if another member shares their same core beliefs right from the start. After all, we believe it's better to know if someone holds an unfair bias before you meet up for a date."
He also added:
"These questions in no way represent OkCupid's point of view because they're simply that: questions. We can't speak for all people, they have to speak — and share their opinions — for themselves. But we can say that OkCupid is dedicated to creating and supporting a community that is inclusive, welcoming, and open."
But other users see flaws in the questioning, too.
A female plus-size user, Holly Quinn, felt that the questionnaires prompts weren't inclusive enough:
"It didn't give me the options I was looking for about talking about my physical appearance. It's was frustrating — when I started filling it out a few years ago because of I never found the answers to be very fitting to who I could describe myself to be."
One plus-size male user, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he didn't mind answering questions about what his body type was but was turned off by the other questions:
"What I didn't like was how it asked me what body type I prefer which, made it feel more superficial than what it already is..."
But perhaps the source of the issue isn't so perplexing.
Out of the 53 employees OKCupid has listed on its about page, 15 are visibly traditionally identifiably female, and only one woman holds a directorial position. From the bio photos on the page, body-size diversity also doesn't seem to be a trait present in their current staffing.
While no one is required to find all body types attractive, they are required to treat each and every one they encounter (online or in person) with dignity and respect.
And using qualifying words that imply a bias certainly isn't fostering a positive atmosphere.