Online dating sucks.
November 18, 2006 6:19 AM   Subscribe

How should I describe myself in online dating profiles or personals ads?

I am overweight, but not obese. Height-wise I am quite small, but weight wise, I am 155lbs (should be 125-135). The excess weight shows in my big belly, wide hips and breasts - I have a pear shaped body, I think. I've found that the guys I'm interested in online are looking for women who are average, slender, fit, etc. and while I am trying to get there, I can't describe myself that way right now. In the past I've described myself as "curvy", but I don't think that adequately represents the fact that I am overweight. I definitely have curves, but I don't really think people expect a huge stomach on a girl when she says she's curvy. I really don't want to use the word "overweight", as I've found that that term attracts men looking for a "BBW", which I am not. Assuming I've described my body enough to give you a rough idea of what I look like, what are your recommendations for how I should describe myself online (esp in situations where my picture is not posted)?
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (32 answers total)

I guarantee, better to simply not get responses from people who aren't interested than to gloss over the fact and have to see that reaction in person.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:25 AM on November 18, 2006

A study I read showed that the average woman's online dating profile claims her as being lighter than the average woman. Meanwhile the average man's online dating profile claims him as being taller than the average man.

So to some degree I think you should take some courage from the fact that most of the other people on the site are lying.

Getting hung about describing your physical form is a red herring. While men do tend to go for the physical in the first instance, in the environment of online dating that simply means the men are checking out good looking photos.

Accordingly you need to ensure you have a number of flattering photos on your profile. (Anyone, of any weight, can achieve this with enough time and effort!)

But the most important thing is the wit and originality of your profile itself. Because I guarantee you that your ideal match will be looking for something that excites them in the text. Something to differentiate you from all the other girls who say that they like to sit in watching romantic comedies.
posted by skylar at 6:49 AM on November 18, 2006

Live and learn. Go with honesty, but don't dwell on the specifics. If you need to change that later; do so. Too much negativity will give a sense of self image problems. List your positive qualities, and just check the "overweight" button in the demographics data.
posted by SirStan at 6:54 AM on November 18, 2006

It's been awhile since I've done the online dating thing, but if I remember correctly it's always not mandatory that you describe your physique at all. I remember that on Yahoo you had to, but you got to pick from a list of adjectives that used "thick" or "cuddly" as ways to describe people who are overweight. Perhaps you could skip over the descriptions of yourself and just make sure you post a few good photos, including a full-body shot or two, so people can see for themselves.

If you do want absolute truth in advertising, or if you really can't post photos all the time, perhaps you can say something like, "curvy and trying to shed my extra pounds." Or just drop your height and weight numbers in somewhere and let people figure it out for themselves. But I think skylar was right above...your ideal match will be looking for what you write, not what you weigh.
posted by christinetheslp at 7:01 AM on November 18, 2006

Back in my old internet dating days, I used to say something along the lines of "Incidentally, I'm a big girl, so I'm looking for a guy who either likes that or considers it a non-issue". That came at the end of a really weird, absurd profile; basically, if they'd read that far they were clearly already keen on strange nerdy girls with a penchant for faberge eggs and an unholy love of Sir Michael Caine. (And for what it's worth, I garnered no chubby chasers with that disclaimer, only open-minded boys with broad tastes.)
posted by hot soup girl at 7:08 AM on November 18, 2006 [2 favorites]

Try both. Keep track of which date you get from which and pay particular attention to the first reaction of the "curvy" ad guys.
If you don't like the responses you get, use it as motivation to lose weight to the point that you don't feel the word "curvy" would be lying. Or at least to the point where you don't describe your own stomach as huge.

Everyone reads personal ads with a grain of salt. Especially if the feature is potentially negative. There are plenty of guy who read curvy as meaning overweight. It just depends on whether or not YOU can say it with a straight face. (And you'll need to be willing to accept the hardship of rejection solely based on your size, which would be a tough pill to swallow.)
posted by JakeLL at 7:09 AM on November 18, 2006

You might say zaftig (Yiddish/German "juicy") or voluptuous.
posted by brujita at 7:35 AM on November 18, 2006

If you're so uncomfortable with this section of your profile that you feel you have to consult AskMe for the wording instead of writing it in your own voice, then you should leave it out entirely. Switch to a website that allows you to post a photo that shows your body. There's no need to give a verbal description.

Also, stop assuming that the men you're attracted to aren't attracted to women like you, and that you thus need to trick men into thinking they'll be attracted to you. Your goal should be to find a genuine mutual attraction.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:35 AM on November 18, 2006

Just post a picture.

Rather than trying to find the right language to describe yourself, and hoping that your readers interpret that language as you do, just post a picture. either they'll be into you (or think, she's fat but she's cute enough to make up for it, or whatever), or they won't be.

When I see a post without a pic and weasel words like curvy (of zaftig or voluptuous or worse, volumptuous), I tend to assume the worst.
posted by orthogonality at 7:36 AM on November 18, 2006

I agree with Jaltcoh, pictures say it best. I would advise against posting your weight in numbers. 155lbs sounds a lot bigger than it really is. I think a lot of people underestimate what people weigh (some guy once asked me if I weighted 100 lbs, which I found hysterically funny- not even close). I've noticed that pinup models often put down their weight as something ridiculously low (5'9" and 105 pounds, with that huge rack? No way!), and they wouldn't be able to do it if men didn't buy it. Keep numbers out of it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:40 AM on November 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Take this with a grain of salt, since I haven't really looked at any online dating sites and don't know what the norms are, but how do you feel about putting your size in the description, for example "curvy size 12," or whatever?

That's assuming that women's clothing sizes mean anything to men.
posted by amarynth at 7:44 AM on November 18, 2006

I'm short and curvy and my suggestions are 1) photos and honesty and let people decide for themselves and also 2) other positive physical attribute words that will mitigate whatever downsides you think being stocky/chubby/curvy/whatever will bring. So words that convey (if it applies) fit, fashionable, confident, outdoorsy, cheery, strong, great skin, awesome hair or other words that say that you look good and like yourself in addition to being heavy. I think one of the concerns that people have with heavy people is the things that they think go along with heavy people, like being out of shape, unconcerned about their appearance, etc. I personally like heavy guys, skinny guys and all sorts of guys in-between, but I'd be less interested in a guy I thought didn't take care of himself or wasn't active in some way or confident about his appearance and those things matter much more to me that standard height/weight descriptors.
posted by jessamyn at 7:56 AM on November 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

I am overweight, but not obese. Height-wise I am quite small, but weight wise, I am 155lbs

How? Exactly like that. Believe it or not there are people who are looking for someone with your body type. You won't meet them if you don't put it out there.

I have one friend who is frustrated by the "a few extra pounds" radio button as the upper limit. What she wants to know is "how can I find someone who is actually fat?"
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:44 AM on November 18, 2006

Also short & curvy here (much curvier than you!) and it hasn't been a problem for me. The stats you're listing simply do not describe someone enormous, but the language you're using indicates a lot of pain and discomfort with your body - and that's less attractive than a round belly.

Don't bother with online dating if you can't approach it as an amusing exercise with possibly nice outcomes, it's not worth berating yourself and imagining what hypothetical people might like or not like about you. Meet and charm people in person instead. Good luck.
posted by judith at 8:53 AM on November 18, 2006

I'd personally go with "a few extra pounds." I'm not overweight but I'm a bit of a chubby guy who's no cover model for Men's Health or anything like that.

Definately second with the photo suggestion.

Also, really don't try and focus too much on describing yourself physically. I mean, true, it's an issue, but just describe the type of person who you are. Maybe I'm some freak case but personally, I'd take a fugly, chubby girl with a nice personality who I can relate to over a hot supermodel with no personality.

The best of luck to you.
posted by champthom at 9:06 AM on November 18, 2006

There are plenty of words you can use to communicate your shape while being fun and positive about it. My favorite is zaftig, but there's also shapely, voluptuous and the super-straight forward "plump."

Lots of men go for the Botticelli type girls — I'm one too, and I've found that it's good to have a sense of humor about your weight. You don't have to be a stick figure to be beautiful. (Not that I don't aspire to be one myself, as most of us zaftig ladies seem to.)

So, in essence, don't be misleading, but don't be too worried about it either. "Curvy" is actually a perfectly fine word that generally indicates a little bit of meat on your bones.

Good luck!
posted by brina at 9:10 AM on November 18, 2006

I used way back in the day, and while I think I listed "curvy" (I'm 5'10") as my body type, my username was happy_fat_chick. I think that was honest enough.

I met one guy who thought the username was adorable. I married him.
posted by timetoevolve at 9:24 AM on November 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

why not "Rubenesque"?
posted by matteo at 10:28 AM on November 18, 2006

That's assuming that women's clothing sizes mean anything to men.

It's a rare man who has any concept of women's clothing sizes.
posted by ShooBoo at 11:53 AM on November 18, 2006

don't describe it in great detail but don't be dishonest. perhaps post an image that gives people a realistic idea of who you are and what you look like.

I personally would feel mislead if you made it sound different from what it is and it would most likely lead to an awkward date. (how can you trust someone with the bigger issues when she already misleads you here) when I know who I am about to meet, I feel much more comfortable.

why not "Rubenesque"?
rubens did not paint overweight women. he painted a highly proportionate hourlass shape. their hip-to-chest ratio was just that of a supermodel. people who do not have articulated curves and describe themselves as this merely demonstrate they don't know what they're talking about.
posted by krautland at 12:35 PM on November 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

I think most people ready "curvy" as a euphemism for "overweight" and that you'd be fine with that one.
posted by nevers at 12:48 PM on November 18, 2006

rubens did not paint overweight women

by today's standards? you don't go out much do you? you can argue against you're blue in the face that today's media-induced standards of beauty are insane (I agree), but still.

let's see: Rubenesque, American Heritage Dictionary
Plump or fleshy and voluptuous. Used of a woman.
posted by matteo at 1:14 PM on November 18, 2006

Have a nice picture. Also realise that men are not brought up to do BMI calculations in their head and are quite unlikely to think "gosh, at her height she should only weigh 120".
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:21 PM on November 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

I empathise hardcore with your situation. The question "How big am I, really?" is a very difficult one to answer. I agree with the suggestions that you shouldn't say anything about your size, and just post a few honest, flattering pictures. If you feel you must describe your body shape in your profile, the best thing for you to do is to be creative and stay away from all the words potental suitors already have alternate definitions for. To give you some examples, I'm 5'2", 40-30-40, and words I've used to describe myself include: R. Crumb-style, birth of Venus, small but not delicate, chunky, substantial, like someone dropped an anvil on the letter X, built like a small curvy tank, big boned (for real! not a euphemism!)- you get the picture.
posted by hyperfascinated at 3:12 PM on November 18, 2006

Krautland, not to put too fine a point on it but that Rubens lady has a body like mine, and I do not have the hip to chest ratio of a supermodel. I would say that the woman in that particular painting isn't overweight, but is fleshier than today's ideal beauty. As I know too well :).
Sorry to take things a little off track, I don't want to help make this thread into a war over Rubens. I just never realized I had a body like a Rubens before.
posted by MadamM at 4:02 PM on November 18, 2006

If you say "curvy," men will assume you're a bit overweight.

I guess you could think about it like this. Would you rather date more men who might reject you because they don't see you as actually "curvy," or miss men who won't date you if you say something more precise?
posted by callmejay at 5:38 PM on November 18, 2006

I think a lot of what you've written here will work, with one caveat: don't give a number in pounds. 155 will look different on everyone, and most people don't even have any idea what a baseline approximation would be. This is not helped by Kirstie Alley's claim that (at 5'8") the most she ever weighed was something like 206.

I would just use the key adjectives you're giving us, something like this but with the lameness removed: "I'm pretty short, and I tend to like guys who are [shorter/taller/whatever] than me. I'm overweight, but not obese, and pear-shaped -- I inherited my family's good ol' child-bearing hips, even though I don't plan to think about that feature for 10 years!"

Mention what needs to be mentioned, but relate it to other stuff. Unless you want guys to come away with the impression that your whole profile = Not Fat, Really, you don't want readers to have to sit there and go through an entire paragraph of you describing your hips in not-so-loving detail.

Oh, and have we all mentioned pictures enough yet? They get the point across better than any description can.
posted by booksandlibretti at 6:34 PM on November 18, 2006

Mod note: no more Reubenesque derail here -- email or metatalk, thanks
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:09 PM on November 18, 2006

Are you happy with yourself? that's the big question. You shouldn't need to resort to cheesy crap like using words such as "reubenesque" or "voluptuous." Most people will read those and think "fat chick that's using frilly words to draw attention away from the fact that she's fat and has low self-esteem."

So, screw the words. Be frank, be honest, and be yourself. You don't have to be a supermodel. In fact, many guys (like me) would be much more appreciative of the fact that you were honest in your profile. I'd rather have honesty than fluffy SAT words.

Keep it real. Be yourself. If someone doesn't like it, the hell with them. Love yourself first, and others will love you for it.
posted by drstein at 7:41 PM on November 18, 2006

That you are having such a hard time with this makes me very sad, because it means you don't like your body. You are ashamed of it and want to mask it in words that will not make men avoid you. You're afraid of rejection, even from unknown guys who know nothing about you. I did the same thing so I know what I am talking about.

What drstein said.

It's what's in your head that counts. Attraction is 98% mental and 2% physical. Or something like that.

Men who make fun of you and won't call because they think you're fat are the ones you should be glad do not call.

Have faith in yourself. You are so much more than your weight.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 9:37 PM on November 18, 2006

Honestly but *positively*. Negativity about your bod will show through in your ad, repelling good partners and attracting bad ones.

"I'm a short delicious pear, with an awesome belly, wide hips and breasts."

"I'm a curvy girl with great hips"

etc. Or, of course, a picture.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:48 PM on November 18, 2006

I'm adding my voice to the "don't give a number of pounds" pile. I'm a girl, and I've noticed that most men (no offense, menfolk) have *no idea* how much girls weigh.

For myself, I really like the word "plump", and I wish it would come back into fashion.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:44 PM on November 19, 2006

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