Because this is an article about being a woman on Tinder.
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And, well, ugh. You know. Laura Cooper, a health care worker and aspiring stand-up comedian, has been on Tinder since last spring. She's 4 feet, 2 inches tall, with a desert-dry sense of humor and a hilariously depressing Instagram feed — aptly named "Laura vs. Tinder" — on which she documents her "Groundhog Day"-like adventures on the dating app. Laura Cooper. Photo used with permission. Though she didn't foreclose the possibility of meeting someone, she held her expectations in check, having heard dozens of horror stories from friends.
Of course, she doesn't speak for all little people, and hers is just one experience. But for better or worse, she's definitely learned a thing or two. All of it interesting — not all of it super great. And yet, some of it mildly OK, extremely mildly redeeming. The way Cooper has decided to use Tinder is equal parts admirable and a nightmare worse than the one where robots are eating your dog: She always swipes right to match. If it's an exaggeration, it's not much of one, as evidenced by a quick glance at the kinds of messages she receives.
Not every guy who contacts her is such a master of subtlety.
Some men are even more Cooper finds the barrage of objectifying messages partly funny, partly pathetic. For a group of strange men ostensibly trying to win her interest, she explains, these dudes could not be doing it more wrongly. For guys who have made it their mission to find a little person, any little person, to have sex with, the specifics of what that might entail don't seem to matter, no matter how bizarre — much to Cooper's endless amusement.
Like mosquitoes, indictments of Trump administration officials, and seasons of "The Big Bang Theory," these horny dudes just keep coming. While people with disproportionate dwarfism are a large, diverse group who experience the full human range of health outcomes, certain medical problems have a nasty habit of cropping up at the most inopportune times. Many of Cooper's friends have endured surgeries their entire lives. Cooper herself has been lucky — until one day she wasn't. Cooper needed an emergency procedure that landed her in the hospital for a month.
For the most part, she passed the time resting, recuperating, and enjoying the free incapacitating drugs. Until she got bored. I think my response was, 'I'm hooked up to eight bags of IV fluids and I have a huge gash on my stomach, how are you? Cooper started her feed with encouragement and occasional contributions from her friends who are little people, many of whom have similar dating app stories.
And it's not just the women who get bizarre messages. While milder than the requests for driveway-clearing-after-a-Nor'easter-style sex and literal dick-measuring messages, "I've always wanted to hook up with a short man" turns out to be the far more polite but no less objectifying female version of same. When confronted with a stream of holy-crap-did-he-just-say-that-gah-of- course -he-just-did, Cooper is faced with two choices: She can either slink away meekly into the digital ether and ignore him, or she can use her wicked sense of humor to engage in hand-to-hand combat.
Her retorts have a tendency to surprise and confound her hopeful paramours, many of whom, she suspects, run crying to Tinder's invisible referees like a toddler who had his binky swiped.
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Rejection, it seems, wasn't part of their plan. The suspensions can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Though she has no way of knowing for sure, Cooper suspects her jousting would be tolerated in a woman of average height, one who they haven't pegged as "desperate.
Meanwhile, the dudes who report her are allowed to continue bumping around Tinder despite the crude, objectifying, Axe-body-spray-tinged nonsense they vomit. Reading just a few of Cooper's messages pretty well illustrates the particular joy of navigating Tinder as an out and proud little person.
Still, a quick glance at the Instagram Tinder Nightmares suggests that women of all heights, sizes, religions, colors, and United MileagePlus Premiere statuses are subjected to horrifically gross man-bile on a minute-ly basis. Do people in Cooper's position really have it worse? For perspective, I managed to track down former Tinder user and non-little person, Michelle D name abridged to protect her privacy, a health care worker based abroad. Her reaction was about as measured as you might expect:.
Arthritis and surgeries were debilitating
The messages were a shock. And Michelle says she rarely, if ever, got anything like them. Still, she explains that some of the behavior Cooper experiences in the app simply migrated to her real-life meetings with Tinder matches — often in uncomfortable, occasionally scary, ways. In that sense, Cooper's experience is less an aberration than one extreme end of a spectrum.
An objectifying, dark-carnival, creepy spectrum. Miraculously, Cooper managed to weed through the pile of sentient phalluses with faces attached to snag a few dates with some actual human men, who, as it turns out, were kinda cool. And they enjoyed my Tinder posts [on Instagram] too. They both followed me on it.
They continue to trade jokes and conversation, none of it about relative body part size or sex acts involving snow shovels. Cooper especially likes to use Tinder when she travels. For the most part, she says, no matter where she goes, it's the same shit, different city. With one exception. People that actually wanted to hang out or [have] real conversations with proper grammar and good spelling. It was refreshing. Like they were very clearly interested in me as a human. A few positive experiences haven't been quite enough to restore her faith in Tinderkind.
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These days, Cooper can't help but approach new matches on the app with a certain wariness. The hospital stay was nearly a turning point for Cooper.
Hopped up on pain medication and IV fluids, she was "too confused" to swipe in any direction. Yet, as she lay in bed by herself, counting down the hours, she found herself missing Tinder. The game.
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