At the end of 2017, after hurtling full-speed out of a seven-year-long relationship, I became a single adult for the first time in my life. Both electrified and mildly overwhelmed by the newfound liberation, I decided to get organized and make myself a catalog of singlehood goals-a sort of dating bucket list of all the things I wanted to try out but had never been able to while cooped up in the high tower of long-term heterosexual monogamy.
Immediately topping my list were two desires: 1) Try dating apps, and 2) Explore dating women. I’d been curious about the former ever since their invention and curious about the latter ever since, well, forever. At some point, I’d acquired the knowledge that Bumble was one of the least sketchy dating apps on the market. So one day in January, I set up my first-ever dating profile and set it to «searching for women.»
My Bumble Photos: With Makeup
I must have been low-key fantasizing about singledom for a while because I knew immediately what photos I’d choose in order to put my best foot forward in the dating world of Los Angeles. I put together a collection of sultry selfies and other pics I’d recently taken before nights out when my makeup look snatched and suggested a subtle come-hither attitude-glowy skin, smoky eyes, and glossy, plump lips, all accompanied by form-fitting ensembles and pouty expressions. I knew the images were a little thirst-trappy, but hey, that was sort of the idea, right? I wanted the ladies foot fetish chat of L.A. to know I was on my best game. These were the photos I felt represented that.
For years, I’d theorized about what «type» of woman I was most attracted to, though I had never gotten to test the waters IRL. So I went in with a wide-open mind, and when I started consistently matching with stylish, trendy femmes, I was not mad about it. Flirting with these women was instantly so much more fun than flirting had ever been with men. Everyone was off-the-bat so positive, friendly, and complimentary (not overly aggressive, just sweet and enthusiastic). Every opener (both theirs and mine) would be some genuine, effusive declaration of praise for one another’s makeup or hair, punctuated with an effervescent heart-eye or sparkle emoji. We’d tell each other that we were stunning and call each other «babe» and «cutie.» These interactions, even the ones that never went anywhere, were bursting with feminine energy and upbeat appreciation.
I suppose it takes someone who spends a lot of time on their own brows and lipstick to recognize those things in another person.
My Bumble Photos: Without Makeup
After a few months of using Bumble and casually dating around, I recalled an online article that went viral a few years ago-an experiment in which a 21-year-old woman created three Tinder profiles with different levels of makeup (no makeup, «average» makeup, and heavy makeup) to see how men would respond. (Spoiler: The results were that the bare-faced version of her profile attracted the most men while her «average» level of makeup seemed to garner the most aggressive pick-up lines.)
Over the years, there have also been all sorts of more formal studies about the physical features that men find most attractive in women, like red lipstick and brown hair. A 2016 story written by a woman for the Guardian said she found that compared to a photo of her with zero makeup, the look preferred by 81 percent of men surveyed involved 12 products, including foundation, two shades of contour powder, and three shades of eye shadow (though the result, according to these men, was seemingly quite «natural»).