This blog post contains some explicit material that some may find triggering.

We have this friend, who for blogging purposes, we will call Betsy. Betsy is, quite frankly, a connoisseur of online dating. Now, we know what you are thinking, “Online Dating – isn’t that for weird dudes who smell vaguely of cheese and are obsessed with cartoon ponies?” That’s where you, dear reader, are wrong. Online dating has this stigma attached to it that it doesn’t necessarily deserve. Online dating can be fun for just about anyone. As long as respect and consent are involved, you can’t go wrong.

Anyway, back to Betsy. Betsy was well versed in the ways of web-based romance well before Tinder even entered the realm of online dating. Still, when her friends suggested the dating app, she was hesitant. Tinder was different from any dating site she had ever tried before. Tinder is an app for smartphones that is heavily image based with thousands of profiles at your fingertips. In seconds, you decide whether or not you’d like to get to know the user based purely on their profile picture. Sure, you can read their profile, but many users don’t.

(If you’re unfamiliar with Tinder, this article is a quick read that sums it up pretty well.)

Feeling brave, Betsy decided to go for it anyway. At first it was awesome, she met some great people, had some good conversations and generally felt respected. Then she met Fred. Fred spent weeks wooing her. Under the impression that he was a kind, funny person she agreed to meet him. Boy, was she wrong! The date was awkward, tense and genuinely unpleasant. Wait – it gets worse. Fred decided to tweet about Betsy’s body after the date. He wrote, “Never trust a girl who only posts pictures of her face on Tinder.” He later added, “Secret internet fatties are the worst.” No Fred, you are the worst.

When Betsy looked different than Fred had envisioned, the way he treated her drastically changed. He went from nice to nasty in seconds. Although we believe that the way a woman looks should in no way be correlated with the way people treat her, it got our group in WAGS class thinking. We wondered exactly how much the way a woman presents herself online could influence the type of message she receives, even before meeting that individual.

With inspiration from this blog, our group set out to determine how a woman’s identity influences her experience with online dating, especially on Tinder. We made three different profiles based on three different types of women –a goth, a mainstream student and a party girl–to see how other users in the Winona area would respond. My group kept each profile up for four days and swiped yes to every user in order to collect responses from all walks of life.

In the next post, we’ll tell you what we learned about being a mainstream student on Tinder.

–Samantha Atkins, Clare Arvidson and Mike McArdle