For the past year, my Tinder bio has opened with three simple words: “cute and curvy.” On the surface, the cheeky alliteration is meant to show a confident, sexy, and playful side of myself. But I also start with these words to make clear to potential dates an undeniable truth: I am fat. And yes, I want you to notice my body size before you Like me.

Dating profiles give you the power to present the best side of yourself — you know, the one that doesn’t trip and face-plant as you walk in to meet someone. But, in showcasing your “best side,” there is an undeniable pressure to fit society’s curated idea of desirability — an idea that’s been around since long before the advent of dating apps. In a fat-shaming world, being alluring and attractive often means shrinking to fit a thin ideal, as plus size women have long been labelled “unsexy” and “unwanted.” Whether through photo-editing tools, carefully positioned selfies, or artfully cropped photos, fat women are expected to make themselves appear smaller and more delicate in their profile pictures

It’s predictable, then, that radical transparency about my size and, to some degree, pride in my appearance hasn’t always been a part of my dating strategy. For a while, I bought into pop culture’s thin ideal, especially when it came to dating. When I initially ventured onto Tinder in 2017, my first-date jitters centered around whether or not the people I matched with knew I was fat. Though I was posting full-body photos and wasn’t altering my images, I still worried whether my pictures were a correct representation of my appearance. I was so used to my body being labeled “undesirable” that I assumed it would be what did me in. I fretted that matches would arrive to our date, shake my hand, and be shocked at the fat woman in front of them.

Damn what society says. I am fully fat, and I am fully desirable.

Every time I opened Tinder to find multiple new matches, I questioned why anyone was Liking a 200-plus-pound woman. My internal narrative was always the same: Something must be wrong. My pictures must be deceiving. Matches can’t realize what my body truly looks like. If they had, surely they wouldn’t have Liked me. And I’m certainly not the only fat woman to go through this self-imposed interrogation.

But as I went on more dates, I was forced to interrogate my feelings about my body time and again. As a result, I soon gained confidence in my appearance — fat body included. Styling myself for dates with cute clothing and fierce makeup helped reframe my perspective. Like many others, I used fashion and beauty to feel like my sexiest self. And once I started feeling attractive and confident in myself, I began recognizing how potential partners could find me attractive, too.

Although finding your value in others is never a solid path to self-acceptance, I will admit that dating people who would run a hand over my curves in public (and private) became proof of my own attractiveness. Partners lovingly grabbing at my body rolls during intimate moments, and it was refreshing and sexy, not shameful. Their compliments about my body were confidence-boosting, too. Confronting my insecurities coupled with partners displaying their unabashed attraction to me made me realize I can be wanted fully and proudly as a curvy woman.

Now, I’m only interested in matching with people who aren’t just passive about my body size but actively find it attractive. That’s why soon after my body revelation I chose to prioritize my status as a curvy woman in my Tinder profile with unapologetic zeal. I always include full-body photos and I try to chat body politics in preliminary conversations with matches to make sure they “get it.” 

So yes, I want you to notice I’m fat right off the bat. And I want you to Like — or for that matter, Nope — me with that in mind. But beyond that, I want you to realize that I’m so much more than my body size. I’m fat and fiery. I’m plus and passionate. And, yes, I’m cute and curvy.