It’s tricky, filling in your OkCupid profile. And one of the trickiest bits is ‘body type’. While ‘height’, ‘drugs’ and ‘income’ pose no problem (the general rule is to lie), ‘body type’ is a loaded topic. Are you thin, overweight, skinny, average, fit, athletic, jacked, a little extra, curvy, full figured or used up? I’m not quite sure what ‘used up’ means, but if the rest of the list is anything to go by, it presumably means sod all.
Take, for example, ‘curvy’. The Kinder Bueno of body-type terminology, it can be whatever you want it to be. Dita von Teese is curvy. Venus de Milo is curvy. Gwyneth Paltrow in a fat suit in Shallow Hal is curvy. Every self-styled ‘real woman’ who has ever been eulogised in the Daily Mail is curvy. Heck, even men can be curvy. What else would you call your beer belly – rectolinear?
OkCupid, to its credit, knows what it’s doing. The latest OkTrends post includes a chart plotting body type against sex drive and self-confidence. It notes:
“Though many of the words are just a shade of meaning apart, there are dramatic differences in the traits of the people who choose them… It’s particularly interesting to isolate skinny—a deprecating way to say something generally considered positive —and curvy—an empowering way to say something generally considered negative.“
In short, the way a girl describes herself is not so much a gauge of her muffin top, as it is of how pissed off she was that day.
Body-shape categorisations can quickly move into the realm of the surreal. TV makeover shows, for instance, tend to work on the basis that women are interchangeable with fruit. The female body can be:
a) an apple (fat deposited around the middle),
b) a pear (fat deposited around the hips),
c) a banana (no fat at all, but bendy) and
d) an hourglass (because, let’s face it, no-one ever saw a voluptuous kumquat).
I have a new-found respect for the shopping habits of men: buying socks without once envisioning themselves as loganberries.
Anyway, I reckon it’s time OkCupid got creative. Given the lack of hard-and-fast divisions between body shapes, it’s time they went the whole hog and turned it into a kind of word association game. Screw literal meaning. If connotations are of the essence, why don’t they ask us to define our body shape as a colour? As a mood? As a type of floor polish? As a spectacularly mediocre 1990s boyband? It would be fun. More importantly, it would avoid the disappointment that ensues when your ‘athletic’ date turns out to be the UK Heavyweight Champion of Beer Pong.
In the meantime, I suppose people’s photos might prove the more accurate guide.