It took months for me to finally upload a full-body photo to my online-dating profile. Because I’m plus-sized, I figured that a head-to-toe picture would prevent men from messaging me; I assumed cute, up-close selfies would work in my favor — but, boy, did I misjudge that one.
I had heard people say I have a pretty face (the classic “big girl” compliment), so in the beginning, my dating profile pictures highlighted my face — and cut off my body. I usually made sure to include my chest, since, well, that was another area that usually got attention. You know the photo I’m talking about: the selfie taken from a perfect, slightly raised, double-chin-hiding angle — cropped just below the chest.
Putting those assets proudly out there felt like I was presenting the best version of myself — not unlike the way we put our best foot forward when interviewing for a job, right? Could what I was doing really be considered lying if my (innocent) goal was to give a strong first impression?
At first, this approach seemed fine. Many guys messaged me, and while we were flirting I’d always send over a head-to-toe photo of me in a cute outfit — so I wouldn’t shock them when we met in person. That’s when things would get awkward. Some guys would stop texting me; the others made it obvious that they only wanted to hook up. I'd been chatting with one guy regularly, but after I sent the full-body photo, he went from calling me every night (to ask how my day was) to sending messages at 1 a.m. (to ask whether I was dominant in bed).
I was frustrated beyond belief. It became exhausting to sense chemistry with someone and then have to wonder if everything would change once he saw my body. It almost made me want to stop dating online altogether. But, that was before I stopped to consider: Was I doing this right?
To find out, I decided to re-do my profile. I was still eager to present my best self, but this time with honesty and integrity. So, I added five full-body photos to my dating profile, and the results were somewhat surprising: The overall number of guys messaging me decreased, and the number of men with a so-called "fat fetish" quadrupled, their messages growing more and more vulgar as they asked me if I'd put on more weight for them. I ignored these fetishists, of course, and focused on the remaining (thoughtful, and sincerely interested in me) messages that were coming through.
My updated profile caught the eyes of a nice selection of guys who expressed interest in going out and getting to know me. They knew what I looked like from the get-go, which made me feel at ease. I was able to avoid those awkward moments (guys going MIA after I sent a full-body photo). Now, the messages I got — every day — seemed to be coming from sincere dudes who wanted to go out on actual dates.
Truthfully, I can't believe I waited so long to make this liberating move. After all, I'm comfortable with my figure and with the work I'm doing on my healthy-living journey, and any man I date must be comfortable with it, too. Putting up photos that represented all of me led to lots of in-person dates. Many of the guys I went out with paid me the ultimate compliment: "You look even prettier in person!"