I'm pleased to announce a new publication from the M3: Media, Masculinities and Mental Health project! Co-written with colleagues from La Trobe University, Australia and University of Calgary, Canada, this paper entitled ‘I don't think my torso is anything to write home about’: Men’s reflexive production of ‘authentic’ photos for online dating platforms" has been accepted to Journal of Gender Studies. It explores cisgender, heterosexual men's practices and reflections on taking and choosing profile images for dating apps.
Image source: Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash. A white male hand wearing a black watch and grey sleeve around the wrist holds up a black mobile phone. The phone is centred in the image and shows a pink screen of a log in for Tinder, a dating app.
What's it about?
This paper looks at how 15 cisgender, heterosexual men in Australia take or choose profile images for their dating profiles. It looks closely at their motivations and reflections on their choices. This is from the same data set utilised in our other recent publication exploring men's practices of sending Dick Pics to women. It engages with concepts including social constructions of authenticity, bodily reflexive practices, masculinity, and studies into selfie cultures and dating apps.
What did you find?
This paper argues that the men in the study are attempting to present authentic and real selves in a dating world, while being confronted by concerns regarding body image and perceptions of ideal bodies:
In particular, men were adamant that settings played a vital role in how they chose to represent themselves, often choosing natural settings or outdoor settings, or, in which they could demonstrate a skill or interest:
doing interesting things like hiking or things like that
They also demonstrate conflicting desires to appear more muscular, fit, and athletic while not presenting as vain or narcissistic.
I think perhaps maybe I’m a bit body conscious, I think, or it's probably a split between. Like, I think it's I see those [torso shots] and I think they're a bit stupid, and then also I think I’m probably body conscious
My phone has a lovely thing called a beauty filter on it, which sort of takes, smooths my skin out and like takes a little bit of the blemishes and the redness out of my face and stuff like that. But I try and not to overly use that, so I try and keep it as close to me as possible
In the process of creating profiles, these men develop a sense of self drawing on understandings of masculinity and specifically notions of idealised male bodies, which simultaneously run counter to the very authentic images of the self they seek to present.
Where can I read it?
This paper is available at Journal of Gender Studies. Or please feel free to get in touch and we can send you a copy!
Waling, A., Kehler, M., Power, J., Kerr, L., & Bourne, A. (2021). ‘I don't think my torso is anything to write home about’: Men’s reflexive production of ‘authentic’ photos for online dating platforms. Journal of Gender Studies. DOI:10.1080/09589236.2022.2027236