WooPlus, a location-based dating app for “bigger women, big guys, and curve lovers,” has introduced a new feature to empower its community of plus-size women, who are often subject to body-shaming and ridicule. Users can now flag harassing behavior by reviewing, rating, and commenting on the profiles of guys they’re messaging with, according to a new press release. If a user accrues enough poor reviews and ratings, he will be automatically — and permanently — banned from the site.
The founders of the app, known as the “Tinder for Curve Lovers,” decided to develop the user-suggested checks-and-balance system after conducting a survey of its members and finding that a disconcerting 71 percent of women admit to having been “harassed and insulted” based on their weight and appearance. “Although we know that on regular dating apps, many women have experienced unfair treatment, we were still shocked at the final result of this study,” said WooPlus co-founder Michelle Li. “Our mission at WooPlus is to create many more female-friendly features so bigger women have user-friendly and practical dating tools, and are treated with respect.”
In addition to comments and reviews, the new feature employs a five-star grading scale to allow a woman to rate a man with whom she’s been interacting. Those ratings, comments, and reviews then become part of an artificial intelligence algorithm that is used to recommend potential matches. Li sees this new feature as a means of letting voluptuous single women take back their power when looking for love and companionship online. It’s also seen as a way for women to help other women create a female-friendly and safe environment for soulmate searching by “adding a layer of accountability not usually associated with online dating.” She says the feature allows women to “warn each other about potential time wasters. We are willing to sacrifice anything to retain the level of quality and inclusiveness on which the app was created.”
WooPlus seems to have tapped into something that resonates with its female user base. Women surveyed by the company revealed specific, disheartening experiences of harassment. One user said, “I’ve been harassed so many times for both my height and weight. I guess I’ve triggered some size-related existential crises.” Another reported, “I’ve gotten some crap from [men] who I have politely told I’m not interested in. For some reason, they think fat = no standards.”
WooPlus has a zero-tolerance policy for this kind of demeaning behavior and even calls the perpetrators of the abuse “fat-shaming fools.” Li recognizes the need for plus-size women to have a “safe place” to date online and takes that responsibility to heart. She says, “Someone once accused WooPlus of segregating plus-size women from the mainstream, and I think this survey may be the best evidence for the value and real necessity of WooPlus. It is safe, necessary, and welcome!”
Women using the app — which uses a swipe left/swipe right mechanism, just like Tinder — seem to be like-minded. One user surveyed by WooPlus said, “Us curvy girls deserve to meet someone like any girls. Love has no sex, size, weight.” Li encourages this sense of empowerment, saying in the press release, “On WooPlus, women who choose a dating partner will have more power and privileges, which they should have had a long time ago.”