Bumble is banning body shaming. 

From today, the popular dating app will be modifying its terms and conditions to prohibit unsolicited, pejorative, disrespectful comments about someone’s body shape, size, health, or appearance. Comments that are fatphobic, ableist, racist, colourist, transphobic, or homophobic will also be prohibited. 

The ban will apply to comments made through the dating app’s chat function — so messages that people send their matches — as well as the content in people’s profiles. If a person’s profile, comments, or images contain body-shaming language, Bumble says they will be picked up by automated safeguards and “moderated.” This means that a human moderator will take a look at the profile or message before deciding what action should be taken. 

If body shaming language is detected in a profile or in the app’s chat function, the user will receive a warning for inappropriate behaviour. However, if the comment is deemed particularly harmful, or if repeated incidents occur, Bumble will permanently suspend the user from the app. 

Daters who receive fatphobic and body-shaming messages or who spot profiles which break these rules can also report and block the offending individuals. 

Dating apps are rife with fatphobia. Fat people — and fat women, in particular — experience fatphobic abuse, unsolicited comments about their bodies, and micro- and macro-aggressions on dating apps. As writer Stephanie Yeboah writes in Stylist, “Dating as a fat person in today’s society kinda, sorta sucks.” Yeboah, author of Fattily Ever After, says that “to date while fat means one of three things: being humiliated, being ignored or being fetishised.” This rampant anti-fatness is traumatising for people who are just trying to find love. Some people choose to leave dating apps entirely for this very reason. 

Bumble conducted its own research into the extent of the problem and found that one in four Brits have experienced body shaming on a dating app or social media. Half of people surveyed said someone they dated had made an unsolicited comment about their body either online or IRL. 

Naomi Walkland, Bumble’s head of UK and Ireland, says the app wants to be explicit when it comes to the kind of behaviour that’s not welcome on Bumble. “Key to this has always been our zero-tolerance policy for racist and hate-driven speech, abusive behaviour and harassment.

“We always want to lead with education and give our community a chance to learn to recognise this language and improve,” adds Walkland. “However, we will not hesitate to permanently remove someone from the app if there are repeated incidents or particularly harmful comments.” 

Other dating apps, take note. 

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