Any person of colour who has used Tinder will tell you that there’s a bias on the platform.
Black and mixed women in particular get fewer likes than white women.
According to a 2014 study by OKCupid, 82% of their non-black male users show some bias against black women – while Asian men’s dating profiles are consistently rated the lowest by single women on the site.
We find certain races attractive or matchable – maybe that’s just natural.
And, of course, it’s not something that exclusively occurs online.
Last month, Channel 4 showed The Dating Game, a programme that explored racism in dating.
And people lost their heads when it turned out that loads of us have very real racial prejudices when it comes to choosing a partner. One white woman even went so far as to say that she didn’t want to date a black guy because his ‘nose was flaring’.
But, as I say, for many people of colour, exoticism and prejudice is something we’ve been aware of since we began our dating escapades as teenagers.
I, for example, know that white guys rarely find me attractive – at least at the beginning. The ones I’ve dated are people I’ve known for some time beforehand – they’ve gotten to know my personality. I doubt we’d hook up in a bar if we met randomly.
For a fortnight, I conducted my own experiment on Tinder and Bumble to see if that really bore true online.
For a week, I only swiped right for preppy looking white men who I found attractive and felt pretty sure wouldn’t give me a second look.
The next week, I only swiped right for the black guys who I also found attractive but who I felt would definitely swipe right for me.
And I was completely right both times.
Almost none of the white guys matched with me and a huge proportion of the black men did.
You can’t outdate your type, apparently – at least not purely from an aesthetic point of view.
And that theory has now been corroborated by The Study of Attraction – a live experiment looking to explore how ethnic discrimination affects attractiveness.
‘Recent events have given people from ethnic minority backgrounds, particularly Muslims, a bad name in society,’ says Zish Alexander, founder of the study.
‘This has resulted in islamophobia, prejudice, and unconscious bias amongst Brits.
‘As a male with an ethnic minority background, I have been keen to find out how this might be affecting me in the dating world.’
Together with his creative partner, Antonia Jackson, he’s designed a Tinder experiment to find out just how much of an effect this is having on fellow people of colour.
‘I photoshopped myself into three different ethnic personas, and I did this by changing two variables: my skin colour, and my name.
‘We then created three separate Tinder accounts for each of the three personas: Alexander, Ahmed, and Andre.
‘Every day over 28 days, we swipe right 100 times on each Tinder profile, and post the results on Instagram daily.’
It’s now week two of the experiment and the results are going exactly the way you might expect.
So far, Ahmed seems to be getting a lot less love than either Alexander or Andre. And the fairer version is winning by a long shot.
On day 15, Alexander is has 48 likes, followed by Andre with 40 and Ahmed is trailing behind with 19.