Nav: Home

Weight stigma affects gay men on dating apps

October 08, 2019

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, had a negative effect 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 with one another," 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."

The study also found that apart from weight stigma, body dissatisfaction stemmed from sexual objectification and appearance comparison. "It doesn't help that because Grindr exists to connect users for dating or sex, physical appearance bears greater cultural salience," Filice said. "People often compare their candid, in-person appearance to the meticulously curated or digitally altered appearances of others they encounter online.

"On the other hand, we were especially compelled by the myriad protective factors and coping strategies that participants suggested help mitigate Grindr's deleterious effects on body image," said Filice. These included the prioritization of positive self-esteem, strong social support, and avoiding situations that increase insecurities.

Filice said that he doesn't think trying to curb overall dating-app use is an effective public health approach. "Health promotion strategists should focus on patterns in app use that are most harmful and orient their interventions accordingly. Many of our participants see Grindr as a necessary evil, as internet-mediated communication has served a unique historical role for gay men in circumventing social, cultural and legal barriers to making connections in public spaces."

He added, "Much remains to be done. We still have little insight into how dating apps influence the bodily perceptions of trans and gender-nonconforming folks."

Thirteen participants from several cities in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as surrounding municipalities, took part in the study, called "The influence of Grindr, a geosocial networking application, on body image in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men: An exploratory study."
-end-
The study appears in Body Image, and is authored by Eric Filice, Amanda Raffoul, Samantha Meyer and Elena Neiterman, all from the University of Waterloo.

University of Waterloo

Related Body Image Articles:

Gardening helps to grow positive body image
New research has found that allotment gardening promotes positive body image, which measures someone's appreciation of their own body and its functions, and an acceptance of bodily imperfections.
Whole body ownership is not just the sum of each part of the body
Differences between whole body and body part ownership were clarified using scrambled body stimulation in a virtual environment, wherein the observer's hands and feet were presented in randomized spatial arrangements.
Disclaimers on retouched photos don't solve problem of negative body image
Labels that warn an image has been altered or enhanced do nothing to mitigate women's negative perceptions of their appearance, according to a study published in Body Image this week.
Whether a fashion model or not, some body image concerns are universal
When researchers from UCLA and the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma, wanted to test an app they created to measure body image perception, they went to the body image experts -- fashion models.
Short-term study suggests vegan diet can boost gut microbes related to body weight, body composition and blood sugar control
New research presented at this year's Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona, Spain (Sept.
As light as a lemon: How the right smell can help with a negative body image
The scent of a lemon could help people feel better about their body image, new findings from University of Sussex research has revealed.
Motherhood can deliver body image boost -- new study
New research indicates that perfectionism is related to breast size dissatisfaction, but only in non-mothers -- suggesting that mothers are more comfortable with their bodies.
Thoughts on body image in pregnancy important indicator of emotional wellbeing
Researchers have shown that a new way of assessing women's relationship with their bodies during pregnancy could help predict how well the mother might bond with her unborn baby and her longer-term emotional wellbeing.
Eating breakfast with parents is associated with positive body image for teenagers
A new study from the University of Missouri says consistently eating breakfast as a family might promote positive body image for children and adolescents.
Mindfulness could promote positive body image
Making people more aware of their own internal body signals, such as heartbeat or breathing rate, could promote positive body image, according to new research published in the journal Body Image.
More Body Image News and Body Image Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.