“I am open on the sites about my size. I am who I am.”
Studies show that people who are overweight face discrimination in many areas.
NEW YORK (AP) — Each day, Match.com sends Christie Hyde five potential mates based on preferences in her profile — age, height, education, religion, smoking.
But then she reads “slender” or “athletic and toned” for their preferred body type.
She’s a size 24.
“It literally happens every day on that site,” said Hyde, 33, who works in public relations in Daytona Beach, Fla. “I am open on the sites about my size. I am who I am.”
The dating show “More to Love” suggests that love comes in all shapes and sizes, but plus-size singles say their weight sometimes gets in the way of finding love online, even though two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.
Cynthia Colby, 55, who works in multimedia marketing and promotions in Kitchener, Ontario, said she tried eHarmony and Match.com with no luck.
“Either I was overlooked or I would sometimes get someone who didn’t read the part where I said how heavy I was,” said Colby. She included that she was a large woman (size 20) in her profile and posted photos, but typically when she reminded matches about her size, they’d say, “Oh. I didn’t know. That changes things.”
Cheryl Sellick, 54, of Cherryville, N.C., who has been on Match.com and Plentyoffish.com, doesn’t say she is a BBW (big beautiful woman), size 26, in her profile, but does post photos.
She sends the men an e-mail before meeting in person: “I want to remind you I am a big, beautiful woman. Are you sure you want to do this?” Some guys are gracious about it, she said, but “most of them are just gone.”
Sellick is now looking for matches on the MoretoLove.com dating site and feels more comfortable knowing the men are looking for larger women.
Studies show that people who are overweight face discrimination in many areas, including work, education, health care and even from families and friends, according to Peggy Howell of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. Dating seems to be no different.
A Wake Forest University study earlier this year found that men find thin, seductive women the most attractive. Researchers surveyed 4,000 men and women age 18 to 70-plus and asked them how attractive they found photos of members of the opposite sex.
The men had similar body-type preferences, while the women had a more diverse range of responses, said lead researcher Dustin Wood.
No wonder some women lie on their profiles, choosing a “few extra pounds” instead of “heavyset” or posting photos from younger, thinner years.
Laura Triplett, an assistant professor of communications at California State University, Fullerton, who studies fat discrimination, said many larger-sized women are rejected once they meet a potential mate in person, even if they are up-front about size in profiles and photos.
She said in one instance, a man flew a woman across the country for a meeting, was disappointed when he saw her and asked her to refund the price of the ticket, claiming he flew her there under false pretenses.
“With online dating, I think that people invest themselves with emotion and fantasy of who the other person is,” said Triplett. “The actual facts fall by the wayside. When they actually see the person, taboo takes over. Simply being near someone who possesses a socially undesirable trait is enough to trigger fear of public outcry.”
Triplett suggests overweight women use a niche site such as MoretoLove.com, BBPeopleMeet.com and BBWRomance.com. But she does not advise including weight or size in profiles. “People are going to use your physical characteristics to judge you,” she said. “Why not focus on other things about yourself?”
It’s one of the reasons eHarmony doesn’t ask about weight in its questionnaire. Matching focuses on psychological characteristics, such as shared values, beliefs, attitudes and interests rather than looks, said Paul Breton of eHarmony.
But people should be honest, said James Houran, columnist and spokesman for Online Personals Magazine, whether it’s about size, height or how much hair they have. He calls the eHarmony approach naive; men are visual creatures, he said.
“By sharing who you really are, you are increasing your odds of finding someone who will genuinely have an attraction to you,” he said.
Some men, of course, want to date large women. Bill Fabrey, 68, of Mount Marion, N.Y., owner of Amplestuff, which sells accessories for large people, prefers women who are a size 20 or more. He himself is 5 foot 8 and 220 pounds. He complains that some women on plus-size sites are reluctant to post photos. “Most of the matches that are successful result from photos,” he said.
Linda Arroz, 50, of Los Angeles, a lifestyle expert and former plus-size spokesmodel, said a lot of online success comes from confidence. When she used the headline “Smart, Successful BBW seeks SWM for fun, wine and dine” on Craigslist, she received 100 responses. She vetted six, met five and ended up dating two of the guys.
“I realize that many, if not most men, do not want to date a fat woman,” said Arroz, who is divorced and a size 16-18. “If they like the woman first, they don’t notice her size; they just notice her.”