When I submitted my xoJane Online Dating Reject article, I was pretty impartial about what would happen to it. Of course I wanted it to run on the website, but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if it wasn’t picked up.
Last Friday when the article ran, I was pleasantly surprised to see 124 comments within two hours. Initially, the comments were very constructive. Many readers shared their take on my dating profile, and made awesome suggestions on branding myself in a more positive light.
Much of the advice pointed out really key suggestions I hadn’t taken into consideration prior. Sure, the description sounds witty if you know me and get that I am not a child-craving cat lady who spends all of time chugging smoothies in bed. But if you read that and didn’t know me in real life- then it sounds like a teaser of an extreme introvert.
Readers you were right- it was not painting the best version of myself. I deserve better than that description. It doesn’t show that I love photography, going to off-beat events like the Mushroom festival, trying new brunch places across the city, and attending random new classes like improv. Those are things that I want to share with my potential boyfriend, and activities that I want to participate in with him.
Sure, I tend to be more of an introvert, and not one for the party scene but I live a rich, active life that I want to share with someone. The word ‘forced’ was not the choice to use in the description. At the time that was written in in January, I was in the middle of training for my 5k and learning how to cook. 9 months later, I can say that I ran that 5k and can make an awesome baked kale casserole. Yes, sometimes I have to force myself to try new things like cooking or going to a place where I don’t know a soul- but there’s a better way of phrasing it like for example, ‘I’m always looking to expand my life experiences by trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone. I’m up for anything off the beaten path, as long as I’m laughing and we’re listening to good music.”
My friend who wrote my dating profile truly meant to help, and was in no means sabotaging my efforts. However, it’s one of those things that it has to come within, as corny as that sounds. And come on- I am a writer with a degree in advertising!
And with my photos- there are several more updated images that capture more of my personality. Those photos are about a year and a half old, and need to be updated. Personally I still like them(and appreciate all of the positive comments) but want to show myself out and about. Photos that give a better, excuse me for this pun, snapshot of my life. And even though the highly intelligent cat (who’s actually name is Annie) and my niece are awesome, they don’t really belong on my dating profile.
As the days continued, the comment count surprisingly continued to climb. At some point, the feedback started to include an unexpected turn into nastiness. Here are some examples:
“ I see three issues: 1 being is that your fat”
“She hasn’t gotten any replies because she’s fat
“You’re fat and your profile is offputting, mystery solved.”
Initially, these comments shook me and triggered every insecurity about my body. Like most women, I’ve struggled with my body image and self-perception. It has taken years of maturity, self-exploration, and therapy to learn to love myself while quieting my inner critic. My article asked for ways to improve my profile and feedback from reader’s own online dating experiences. I did not expect the number of Internet jerks to body-shame- especially on a website that is meant to be a space for women empowerment and encouragement. Honestly- you purposely clicked on women-positive website full of personal essays and then took time to read, and construct a comment that go against everything that xoJane is about? To me, that is a lot of energy wasted. And the fact that your opinions are ‘so popular’ that the only place they are published is on the anonymous comment sections online speaks volumes of the value of your two-cents.
And when a fellow xoJane writer named Galit had her article published Wednesday afternoon regarding the cruel, uncalled for body-shamming comments on her article that had NOTHING to do with her physique, I nearly jumped out of my office chair.
As a writer it made me feel less alone for experiencing similar comments on my own article. Then it pissed me off that seriously insecure people are contaminating the powerful, enlightening conversations that takes place on the comment sections of xoJane, and other online outlets.
One reader commented on my personal blog that she hoped ‘I was embarrassed by my pitiful attempt to be Carrie Bradshaw’. Quite the opposite actually! I received terrific advice on how to improve my dating profile and ways to broaden my horizons in the online dating world that I would have never learned if it weren’t for my article being published. I sent the article to fellow writing and publishing colleagues who all had positive things to say about the article. The xoJane staff has been supportive on Twitter, and Jane Pratt even mentioned my article in a Tweet ‘insert fan-girl scream here’. These are the opinions that actually have value.
For me personally, as a writer I’ve always strived to share my particular experiences to connect with people. Putting myself out there and being intimate with readers, just like dating, can be scary and sometimes jarring. But the return, as with anything, is worth the risk.
Apparently my online-dating debacle struck a nerve to readers because I have received many emails, tweets and comments thanking me for sharing my experience- and that my story made them feel less alone. That is enough for me to continue to put myself out there in my writing for the rest of my life.
Also, the fact that this woman commented on my personal blog meant that she left the xoJane website, went to my blog and took time to share her opinion. Since the article was published, the visits to my blog have gone up significantly, which is a win for any writer wanting to connect with a larger audience.
I am proud to be an xoJane writer and to be part of an amazing community that continues the dialogue to inspire and support women. And I cannot wait to take another stab at online dating armed with a new arsenal of online dating tips and tricks. Of course this article will generate mixed comments, probably from the same commenters that left their mark on my article, or Gailt’s article. But my articles and essays aren’t for them. They are for the true xoJane reader, and anyone to whom which my writings resonate.