Is your face getting in the way of dating? Slap a paper bag on your head. That’s exactly what went down last night in New York City as the popular UK dating app, Loveflutter, makes its U.S. push. Loveflutter hosted the promotional event in the spirit of its app, which blurs the faces of its dating participants in a quest to take attention off the physical and put more emphasis on the emotional and intellectual. So, in the flesh, this is what that looked like:
The philosophy behind the event — isn’t there always a great philosophy behind dating techniques?— is we’re living in an increasingly shallow world, made only more shallow by dating apps that place the highest premium on facial beauty. So, who is hitting up the dating world like a Phantom of the Opera?
Jason Lam, a TV producer in New York City who attended the event last night, told Fusion, “I like how Loveflutter is targeted toward quirky people. That's why I'm attending. It’s important that dating apps fit in with the right demographic. I don't really fit in with Match.com… I'm more of a OKCupid, Tinder, Happn kind of guy. But, Loveflutter seems to be a closer fit to me, targeting quirky, weird or interesting people.” And listen, if you thinking Lam is leaning on the bag to disguise a Shrek-esque physique, he’ll be the first to point out that’s not true. “I actually feel like my best trait is my looks,” he told me. “I'm kind of like Chinese baby Elvis meets Danzig.”
Sandy Yu, a disaster recovery specialist also attended the event, said, “there’s a general consensus amongst us who signed up that there is a need to stop emphasizing looks and move away from superficiality. So, even though we will inevitably form impressions based on what we are able to see, that doesn’t bother me, as I know that I’m in a room with like-minded individuals.” Yu’s views are spot on with the mission of the event and its affiliated hashtag #SayNoToShallow.
Ok, well, avoid that guy.
Loveflutter is good in theory, but it seems a little idealistic, so we talked to PhD candidate in Sociology at UCLA, Jess Carbino, who (full disclosure) is also employed by Tinder —one of the ‘superficial’ apps Loveflutter is trying to steer us away from.
She is Tinder’s resident sociologist (yes, that’s a job.) and she’s writing her dissertation on online dating, specifically focusing on the role of facial attractiveness when it comes to the success of online dating. She has an interesting perspective on how a ‘blind date’ like this will go down. “I imagine that physical attractiveness, while not being able to be directly assessed, may lead the participants to describe their physical attributes to their prospective partners,” she said. “So while the bags used in the experiment are trying to de-emphasize the physical, the concealing of those features may lead to them being even more emphasized in a conversation.” It’s kind of like the time you asked the shirtless guy on the boardwalk for directions to the bathroom and he answered you like, “tickets to the gunshow are THIS way.”
When you get down to brass tacks, Carbino thinks participants are going to reserve judgement until they get a chance to unveil their partner’s face. Lam seems to agree. “If they are a butterface, it's okay. I never signed up to marry anyone at this event.” Kind of cynical words from a hopeful datee. But hey, best case scenario, everyone’s night ended it up like this:
Cleo Stiller is a digital producer covering the intersections of sex, tech and culture. Words to live by: get your money's worth.