Dating apps like Grindr promoting weight stigma among gay men

Toronto: Grindr, the most popular dating app for the LGBTQ community, is generating negative effect on men’s body image, especially when it came to weight, say researchers.

Three out of four gay men are reported to have used Grindr, according to a new University of Waterloo study.

“We were surprised to find that weight stigma is perpetuated by individual users and embedded within the app’s information architecture,” said Eric Filice, a public health doctoral candidate and lead author of the study.

Since 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, 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.

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 added.

Thirteen participants from several cities in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as surrounding municipalities, took part in the study that appeared in the journal Body Image.

“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 prioritisation of positive self-esteem, strong social support, and avoiding situations that increase insecurities.

“Much remains to be done. We still have little insight into how dating apps influence the bodily perceptions of trans and gender-nonconforming folks,” the researchers noted.

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