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Fatfishing: Jana Hocking on dating trend where dates are bigger than their photos

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Question: If you match with someone on a dating app, and you turn up and they’re roughly 20 kilos heavier then they looked in their photos, are you allowed to call them out or does that make you a bit of a d*ck?

I ask because this happened to me not so long ago. I matched with a guy and we did the usual banter back and forth on the app for a little while before we decided to meet at my local bar for a drink.

I had run my usual checklist over his photos. You know, do the pics look airbrushed? No. Do they look like old pics? No. Do any of them give serial killer vibes? Nope, he seems to be smiling in most of them.

So, I popped on a cute dress, did my hair, light make up and away I choofed to meet the (hopeful) Prince Charming. Owner of a cute dog, stable job and broad shoulders. Jackpot.

I arrived a couple of minutes late and scanned the bar looking for the guy I had matched with. I see a guy waving from the corner, but I think to myself, it’s definitely not him. I don’t recognise him, but I’ve always been bad with faces, so I give him a polite wave and keep looking for my match.

The guy starts laughing and waves more furiously. I squint my eyes and think he kinda looks like my match, if he had been left in the good paddock for a couple of months, if you get what I mean.

He’s now literally waving me over. I walk over and he goes, “It’s me, *Matt.” (*Changed his name for obvi reasons.)

Oh god. Matt looks very different to the pics I saw on his dating profile. Not necessarily in looks, more in weight. Like I said, he’s 20 kilos heavier. So I haven’t necessarily been catfished, where someone creates a fictional persona, more like ‘fatfished’.

Now here’s the thing – I love a dad bod. In fact, I would prefer it over a gym honed physique any day of the week. The problem is, I’ve been lied to. And I’m faced with a dilemma, because I can’t exactly shame him for it. But at the same time … what the actual heck!

I was brought up with good manners, so I take a seat and order a drink. The whole time he’s talking to me I’m mentally doing a scan of my own pics that I’ve got on the app.

I mean sure, I know my angles, and everyone knows that if you’re ever posing in a bikini you stand on your tippy toes to make your legs look longer, and your stomach look leaner. Does that count as fatfishing?

It got me thinking, I’ve turned up to dates before where the guy has said he was six foot tall and I’ve been met with a five foot six bloke. I’ve also turned up to dates where the guy claimed he was 45, but upon closer inspection is clearly in his 50s.

The height thing didn’t bother me so much because I’m five foot three so as long as I can stand next to them in heels and not look silly, I’m a happy chappy. But I find the age thing infuriating.

Both times I’ve called them out on it, and both guys explained that they would never get matches if they put their real height or age. Which I kinda understand. I don’t condone it in any form, because at the end of the day you’re being deceitful, but I understand.

So, sitting across from this guy who has clearly enjoyed the very best carbs the world has on offer, I’m feeling both empathetic and annoyed. Surely he knows I’m going to spot that he’s larger then I was led to believe, and what? Did he just think I would fall for his wonderful personality and not feel annoyed at all?

It’s a theory, but at the end of the day isn’t it more important to be upfront with the person you’re trying to woo?

By the end of the date I couldn’t seem to move past the fact I had been lied to, which is annoying because there is a fair chance he could have made for a perfect match. But peeps … we gotta be held accountable.

I questioned later if I had been shallow, and after some pondering I decided I wasn’t. I remember after lockdown I caught up with a guy who lived outside my 5km radius and I hadn’t seen for a few months.

We organised to catch up and he sent me a text saying: “Don’t judge but I’ve put on some lockdown weight.” We laughed and I told him not to worry because I had to. I went on to date that guy for a couple of joyous months.

So enough with the tight close up shots, enough with the old pics from your leaner days, and how about we all give it a go being completely upfront with our pics. Gorgeous love handles and all. In the fine words of my teenage self, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

Jana Hocking is a columnist and collector of kind-of-boyfriends | @jana_hocking

Read related topics:Dating AdviceJana Hocking

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