Photo: Brendon Thorne
Swiping through “eligible” men on Tinder, I wonder how anyone manages to date in an era where the height of seduction is a sepia-toned snapshot of one’s genitals.
Defeated by the bounty of bare torsos, I’m yet to be impressed by Tinder’s offerings. Apparently, in between binge drinking in Europe and taking selfies at the gym, modern man is busy adorning himself in Hawaiian shirts and worshipping at the altar of automobiles.
As I veto a guy for owning a cat, I wonder if I’m being too harsh. Am I really this shallow? Have I always been so prejudiced against bow ties? Shouldn’t I read Jack, 28’s bio before writing him off for drinking Fosters?
Then I remember this shameless exercise in superficiality is precisely the reason Tinder exists. According to veteran sex therapist, Bettina Arndt, Tinder is based on the reality that first impressions matter.
“People make snap judgements based on that first look, whether we like it or not, and that is the essence of Tinder,” she explains.
And for $100 per hour, Arndt is offering to help you optimise your chances of warranting a match. She coaches in online dating tactics and, crucially, helps her clients pick their most alluring image.
For those not yet familiar (anyone?), Tinder is a dating app which allows its members to browse a catalogue of potential dates in their locality. Each person’s profile displays a series of images, from which you can discreetly swipe left to reject or swipe right to select your new paramour.
Judgements are fierce and frivolous. It is unsurprising then, that people are turning to professionals like Arndt to help them look hot on Tinder.
“I help people work out what to put in their profiles – what is special about them, that will make them stand out from the pack,” she explains.
“I also help them choose photos or sometimes arrange my photographer to take some. Plus, I give support and advice on strategy, showing people what they are doing wrong and how to improve their chances of success.”
On a platform that encourages such a speedy analysis of a person’s appearance, it is amazing anyone short of a supermodel secures a date at all. Combined with the complete lack of self-awareness shown by the majority of Tinder users, it also hints at why people are keen to solicit Arndt’s advice.
“People put up their selfies, or photos of their dogs, or penises, you name it. But the people who want to make it work need, first and foremost, to have the best possible photo of themselves,” says Arndt.
To achieve this “best possible photo” Arndt advises her clients to keep it natural. Stay away from gimmicks, nudity and travel snaps, which I’m told are “a total cliché.”
She also warns against sunglasses and hats: anything that would suggest you are trying to hide your ogre-like features, because, let’s face it, you probably are.
For other dating sites, Arndt delves into profile writing. But, in the fast-paced game that is Tinder, nobody reads your profile until you pass the picture test. By this stage, you can only do yourself a disservice by opening your mouth.
But the question remains isn’t the artificial production of a dating profile a bit deceptive? Shouldn’t I know if my guy drinks too much and likes to photograph himself in the nude?
Arndt prefers to think of it as a job interview – you should always put your best foot forward. Her philosophy is not to fake it – “I don’t want people to turn up [to a date] and have their date’s face fall!” – but rather, to increase your chances of reaching a face-to-face meeting, where your personality will receive its time in the spotlight.
If the reality is that we’re already sizing-up prospective partners at first glance, Tinder is merely a gift of time, freedom and control in this process. Whether or not you would pay to optimise your appeal is perhaps proportional to how badly you want a date. If Tinder is your primary method of picking up, it is likely you will put more effort into looking bang-able.
While the average 20-something Tinder user is not in a hurry to seek help yet, given their tendency toward mirror-selfies and dick pics, I’m certain they will be soon.