Weight stigma affects gay men on dating apps

And six strategies to accept your weight.

Weight stigma is an issue for queer men using dating apps, says a new University of Waterloo study.

The study found that Grindr, the most popular dating app for gay, bisexual, two-spirit, and queer men, has negative effects on men’s body image, especially when it came to weight.

Three out of four gay men are reported to have used Grindr.

“Dating apps have skyrocketed in popularity over the past decade or so and have radically transformed the ways individuals connect,” said Eric Filice, a public health doctoral candidate, and lead author. “We were surprised to find that weight stigma is perpetuated by individual users and embedded within the app’s information architecture.”

For example, because Grindr facilitates anonymity more than other apps (it doesn’t require a name or link to other social media platforms), and because its pre-set body descriptions don’t acknowledge being overweight (you can be ‘toned,’ ‘average,’ ‘large,’ ‘muscular,’ ‘slim’ or ‘stocky’), most participants in the study perceived being overweight as a stigma.

“Participants recalled their body weight or shape being scrutinized for allegedly being incompatible with their gender expression or preferred position during intercourse,” said Filice. “We think this points to the importance of locating weight stigma within and alongside other intersecting power relations.” 

Outside of the Waterloo study, Psych Central’s Margarita Tartakovsky, MS interviewed several therapists and came up with “Six Strategies for Accepting Your Weight Exactly As It Is.”

Rewrite your stories: Pay attention to the stories you tell yourselves about your weight.

Practice body gratitude: When you are experiencing negative thoughts about your body, work on challenging those thoughts from a place of body gratitude.

Practice radical acceptance: This means to fully and completely accept reality for what it is. It doesn’t mean that we like our current situation, but that we stop fighting against it because fighting against it only creates further suffering.

Set boundaries: If you have a family member who loves to talk about their latest diet, it is OK to tell them, “I’m working on my relationship with food and my body. Could we discuss another topic?

Be intentional about images: Pay attention to the images you’re consuming—and surround yourself with body positive images on social media.

Focus on values, passions, and other meaningful things: Don’t spend the rest of your life chasing after a size that we were never biologically meant to be at the detriment of our values, passions, and our relationships.”

Tartakovsky said it’s really hard to accept your weight in a culture that promotes the idea that with enough dedication, focus, and commitment, your weight can - and should - be changed, and it’s really hard to accept your weight when others criticize it, when you’re told your weight is unhealthy, or unattractive, or wrong.

Further, she says, it is hard to accept your weight when everyone around you hates theirs when everyone is trying out the latest diet, the latest detox, the latest workout routine.

“Yes, it is hard,” she said. “But it’s not impossible.”

The Gayly. 11/26/2019 @ 7:49 a.m. CST.