Last week, we learned that OnSpeedDating.com, a site that organizes speed dating events, offers “Skinny Minny” speed dating for “women under size 8.” On their website, OnSpeedDating.com says “don’t worry about meeting a biggie-size chick 'down-sizing' to an 8 like when you're dating online.”
Curiously, there are no similar size requirements for the men who are attending the event, nor are they required to provide any other information about their physical appearance. Women who attend the event, according to Thought Catalog writer Rachel R. White, have their dress size written on their nametags in red Sharpie marker.
White attended one of the Skinny Minny events in New York City and used a recorder hidden in a vintage fur muff to record the men she sat down with. Their conversations ranged from topics of race and animal rights to porn and masturbation. White’s piece is definitely worth a read, but be forewarned — there is plenty of sexism, eating disorder talk, and weight shaming.
These kind of events highlight the distinct gender rules and contradictions that women are supposed to follow in order to be desirable by men. First and foremost, she must be thin. But not too thin, of course, "only dogs like bones!" She should be sexually available, but not a slut. One of the men quoted in White’s piece says that there’s nothing he hates more than sluts.
The measuring of women only (or firstly) by their physical appearance isn’t new. Studies show that thin women are more likely to be hired for jobs than fat women, and media representations of women don’t reflect the fact that the average dress size in the United States is a 14 — a completely average and reasonable size.
OnSpeedDating defends its exclusion of women over size 10 by saying “We all have relationship 'deal-breakers,' and that does not make us shallow, we’re just single New Yorkers who know what we want and are attracted to. Obviously there is more to it than just height or size, but for many of us that initial 'attraction' factor is at least a starting point.”
Ignoring the fact that dress size is a completely arbitrary number (women can simultaneously wear a size 4, 6, 8, and 10 depending on the designer and quality of the clothing), the suggestion that women should be reduced to the number on the tag of their dress is deeply sexist. It suggests that the only value that women have is in their breasts and legs and hips.
What’s more interesting, though, is the fact that there are no physical requirements for men in this (or most other) speed dating events. There aren’t any exclusions for fat, bald, or hairy guys. A man with an arm growing out of his forehead is welcome, but a woman who wears a size 10 can’t even enter the door. When one man was asked by White why he thought he should date a woman who takes “special care of her body,” he said “because I take special care of my brain.”
This answer perfectly exemplifies the issue — men are told that they should be valued for their brains, and women are told that men value them for their bodies. Fat women, unfortunately, are considered undesirable and should be excluded as to not offend any of the discerning men at this event.
In our culture, there is a deep disdain for fat people, women in particular. Do a quick Googlesearch for “fat woman” and see how many humiliating memes, Photoshopped images, and degrading jokes about fat women you find. If a woman’s body doesn’t fit the traditionally-held standards, it is repulsive and needs to be altered to fit them.
OnSpeedDating suggests in their description of the Skinny Minny dating event that men are often “tricked” online by women who are fatter than they appeared in the photos on their dating profiles. If that is true, and I’m sure there will be plenty of men lining up in the comments to tell me all about it, it’s likely due to the fact that men won’t even acknowledge a fat woman online, much less pursue conversation or a real-life date.
In my time as an online dater (almost 4 years ago, thankfully), I had a man ask to see a photo of my calves to make sure I didn’t have “cankles.” I was repeatedly asked my dress size, and often told that I had “such a pretty face,” and “you would be so gorgeous if you lost 30 lbs!” I’ve never attended a speed dating event, but I can’t even imagine the horrible things said to fat women there.
On the flip side, fat women also have to deal with the fetishization of their bodies. On the seedier side of the internet, there are thousands of pornographic images and sites dedicated to fat women. This kind of fetishization isn’t flattering, either. Fat women, like all other women, want to be loved and desired for who they are, not for a specific part of their bodies.
Dating isn’t easy for fat women, and things like “skinny-only” dating events only makes it more difficult. In my own experience as a fat woman, I was told many times by fat men that I was “too fat.” The irony was stunning. Thankfully, this “biggie-sized chick” found a man who respects me as a human being and loves me for who I am — my body included.
We’re all allowed to have our preferences. I prefer to date people who like to treat others with dignity and respect, and not judge their dateability by a number on the tag of their dress. If you don’t have six-pack abs, it seems a little ridiculous to demand that your partner have supermodel proportions. Even if you do, you shouldn’t be choosing partners based on what their stomachs look like.
You should choose a partner who you enjoy spending time with. Who respects you as a human being and makes you laugh and is good at making pancakes. Not someone who you adore because their breasts are a specific size or because their waist-to-hip ratio meets societal requirements.
I have no doubt that there are men who feel like they are discriminated against by women because of their size or baldness or whatever. However, they’re typically not systematically excluded from the dating world because of those things. Even in media representation, fat men are often seen with thin, beautiful women, and the opposite is not true.
If this event admitted only men with a 38-and-under waist size, it would still be awful and dehumanizing. Unfortunately, though, this issue is relatively one-sided, at least in the world of online and speed dating.
If you can find examples of dating events that specify physical standards for men, please share them in the comments.