One of my favorite things about being an xoJane editor is getting to read drafts of articles several days before they go live on the site. If I have a little time and the mood strikes, I may browse our queue for an eye-catching title, and that's exactly what happened last Saturday morning when I spotted the not-yet-published "IT HAPPENED TO ME: My OkCupid Date Called Me 'Rubensian'... and I Slept With Him Anyway" in our content management system.
As I read it, my first thought was, This Maddie gal is an awesomely hilarious writer; my second was, Welp, this feels not-so-awesomely familiar.
I only glossed over it when I announced I was quitting Tinder over its ageist paid service plan, but a... well, I'll quote myself: "a guy I'd met online had unsolicitedly texted mere hours after we'd hooked up to tell me that he'd be embarrassed to date someone my size." (If you're wondering, that size is currently 12.) In the comments, when a number of readers asked me to divulge more details, I shared some of the actual pieces of poetry this jerkwad just gave away for free via text message, such as, "You're super cute ... your face could launch a thousand ships or whatever. I do wish you had a bit less chub. [tongue-sticking-out emoji]"
It also reminded me of Christina Topacio, who made news a couple weeks ago when she tweeted screenshots of an interaction she had with an online-dating prospect she'd yet to meet in person. To summarize his asshattery and her perfection, he told her she's beautiful but needs to lose weight—sound familiar?—and she responded with a selfie enjoying a Chipotle burrito bowl.
Also familiar: the alleged motivations. The guy that wished less chub upon me said he was only telling me this because he was hoping it could be motivational; Christina's turdblossom told her, "I'm only telling you this because I want it to effect a change."
Around the time I was reading Maddie's story and dolefully wondering just how often a man feels audacious enough to tell a woman he hardly knows how she should change her appearance to fit his preferences, the angels that watch over the Friday 10 a.m. xoJane slot divinely roused a man in another part of Brooklyn to send me a message on OkCupid.
The question didn't ring any major alarms at first. I'd been asked before by guys on dating apps, entirely innocently, if my mole is a piercing.
His profile didn't wave any major red flags, either: my age, claimed to be liberal, Ivy League grad, 78% match. I wasn't very attracted to him physically, but I've been trying to keep an open mind about guys outside my usual type. Other than a pretty awful pun in his username, he seemed decent, so when I saw the message the next day, I replied.
My answer was pretty nerdy, I know, but I didn't regret that when I saw his response. Almost immediately, he asked why I'd never had it removed. And I had a sneaking suspicion he wasn't asking "out of sheer curiosity." He had feelings about my mole.
And when I got around to it early on Monday morning, I gave him a truthful answer.
I do like my mole. I love it, actually. I've had a couple others on my face removed because I've wanted this one to shine like the Gypsy Rose Lee mole that it is. I've considered asking a dermatologist if I could get it a little "flattened" (not that it actually sticks out all that much), but there's no way in hell I'd get it completely removed unless it was cancerous. And even then, I'd have a brown mark tattooed right back onto that spot on my face. It's me.
At this point, I probably should've #ByeFelipe'd the guy, but all these recent stories of dudes feeling entitled to openly nitpick about the appearances of women they haven't met or just met had me on my toes. I was asking out of curiousity—it just wasn't sheer curiousity. It was loaded curiosity.
I woke up to this answer:
I swear, I didn't fill in the You should message me if... section of my profile with "you recognize me from xoJane and you want to give me material for an article."
That arrogance, though! This message reads like something someone writing their first screenplay might have a therapist character say. He got "the sense"? From what? From the fact that the mole is, in fact, still on my face? That I'm not ashamed of it and trying to hide it under makeup or my hair? That I *gasp* like it?
I didn't give a shit. I just wanted to know what happened next in the screenplay.
Ah, there it is. They always think you're super-cute/beautiful/gorgeous, BUT.
But... I didn't put a survey on my profile inviting men to help me decide whether or not I should keep my mole. And yet, this poopnoodle could not help but give me this "advice" because he was so sure my life would improve; there's simply no excuse for me to keep it unless it's impervious to manmade medical tools.
I stayed calm but made it pretty clear that I thought he was being a dick.
BREAKING NEWS: OkCupid is now linked up to a free unsolicited-advice-giving service. You don't have to sign up for it. They'll find you. All you have to do is be female and have physical features.
All kidding aside, this guy actually thinks he's somehow in a position to tell a woman how to improve the social life he knows nothing about—because she obviously needs to improve it if she's on a dating website—via physical changes, while giving that unrequested advice as a user of the very same dating website.
I responded in the only way that seemed logical.
OK, so, full disclosure: I actually didn't see that last response of his before I sent my final reply below. And I'm kind of glad I didn't, because I might have lost my composure. Aside from him jumping down my throat in a show of massive immaturity, phrases like "We're not talking about me ... Right now we're talking about you," reveal the frighteningly controlling nature of this fartchalice.
So, listen, I'm not saying I'm in the same hotness league as Cindy Crawford et al., but I was dropping those names just to make the point that there are many women who are considered beautiful with—in spite of and because of—their moles, and they have never given a sizzling hot damn what some random taintweasel thinks.
But I did totally high-five myself for using his own words against him right before I blocked him.
Honestly, I have absolutely had moments when I've wondered if my mole is unattractive. And it probably is, to some; it's also probably attractive to some. Just like some people find crooked teeth sexy and some find it unappealing, and some people are into big noses and others don't think they're so cute. (And then there's a whole batch of people with whom it probably doesn't even register.) Having physical preferences doesn't make you an asshole; foisting them upon someone who doesn't fit them does.
If you don't like how I look, don't waste our respective time suggesting that I change. Even if I'm sooooooo close to what you want me to look like, I'm not interested in fulfilling your personal idea of the best physical version of me. If I'm 30 pounds or a dermatological procedure away from your dream girl, oh well! I'm not on dating apps so I can be customized to your liking. Find someone else. (Or maybe work on your oppressive personality first, actually.)
If this has already happened to me twice this year, and we know of at least two other writer/blogger types who've shared their experience—and by the way, Christina, your mole is adorable, too, so don't let anyone tell you otherwise—surely it must be happening to hundreds, if not thousands, of single women who aren't as inclined to talk to the Internet about it. I'm worried there may be an epidemic of men inexplicably taking the time to shame women over physical features they don't deem good enough, often under the weak and delusional justification of (unsolicited) advice or motivation, and often when they haven't even met those women or have spent very little time with them. (Not that they should ever do it.)
Actually, I take back what I said about the advice justification being delusional. These human hotdog ingredients know that's not really their reason. It's negging, and it's not playful; they're doing it to feel power over a woman with low enough self-esteem to give it to them. They just have to find her. I hate that they probably will.
I can think of a lot of other things I could've said to that douchecanoe. The only thing I really regret not sending him before I blocked him, though, is the smiley emoticon I've been texting my friends and family—you know, the ones that have misled me in their silence—for years.