Study exposes how Grindr contributes to weight stigma

People who use gay dating app Grindr tend to have a more negative self-image regarding to their weight. Researchers at the University of Waterloo (Canada) discovered that the way Grindr is built can stimulate a negative effect on men's body image.
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The results are published in the journal Body Image. The researchers say the way Grindr is being used, for quick sexual encounters, contributes to a negative body image. “People often compare their candid, in-person appearance to the meticulously curated or digitally altered appearances of others they encounter online,” says Eric Filice, a public health doctoral candidate and lead author.

“Dating apps have skyrocketed in popularity over the past decade or so and have radically transformed the ways individuals connect with one another,” explains Filice. “We were surprised to find that weight stigma is perpetuated by individual users and embedded within the app's information architecture.”

A user can put a pre-set body type in his profile. You can be 'toned,' 'average,' 'large,' 'muscular,' 'slim' or 'stocky', but being overweight is not acknowledged. Most participants in the study perceived being overweight as a stigma. Filice elaborates: “Participants recalled their body weight or shape being scrutinized for allegedly being incompatible with their gender expression or preferred position during intercourse.”

The study also found that apart from weight stigma, a negative body-image stemmed from sexual objectification and appearance comparison. According to Filice, trying to curb overall dating-app use will not be effective. “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.”

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