Bumble Bans Bikini Photos, But Only If They’re Taken Indoors

Apparently swimwear "looks too much like underwear" inside

woman taking bikini selfie indoors
Getty Images

Bumble, the “ladies first” dating app which has long branded itself as a feminist alternative to competitors in the online dating space, would very much like the girl-powered boss babes it claims to empower to kindly take their bikini selfies outside, where they belong. Bathing suit photos taken indoors are apparently prohibited on the app, according to a recent BuzzFeed News report, though it’s fine to show off your swimwear in shots taken outdoors by the beach or pool, which Bumble has deemed “a natural setting to be wearing a swimsuit.”

While social media platforms have no shortage of bizarre policies designed to police the ways in which women’s bodies can and cannot be seen, Bumble’s indoor/outdoor swimsuit ruling may seem particularly fussy and illogical — but wait, Bumble can explain. According to a rep for the dating app, the reason bathing suit pics must be taken outside is that, “If you’re indoors, it looks too much like underwear.” This makes perfect sense, if you ignore the fact that women’s swimwear has long resembled women’s undergarments, and the different social codes we extend to each category of nearly identical clothing has always been bizarre and arbitrary to begin with.

This all came to light after artist Cali Rockowitz tried to post a photo of herself wearing sweatpants and a bralette while posing by a canvas she appears to be working on to her Bumble profile. The photo was “immediately taken down,” Rockowitz told BuzzFeed News. After repeatedly asking for more information about why her photo couldn’t be posted, Rockowitz eventually received an email from a Bumble rep explaining the “swimwear” policy.

“On Bumble, you are totally allowed to have a bikini or shirtless photo, but we ask that these photos are taken outside,” the representative wrote in an email to Rockowitz. “If you’re indoors, it looks too much like underwear.”

A Bumble spokesperson told BuzzFeed News the policy has been around since 2016, after the company found shirtless mirror selfies and related thirst traps weren’t particularly popular among other users.

“We banned shirtless bathroom mirror selfies in response to feedback from our Bumble community — and after our research showed that profiles including those kinds of photos were the most swiped left on,” the app said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “As part of that overall policy, our photo guidelines prohibit photos of people indoors wearing swimsuits or underwear.”

To be fair, we at InsideHook also suggest app-daters give the shirtless bathroom mirror selfies a rest, but it still seems a bit aggressive for Bumble to ban them outright. Moreover, the biggest problem with the bathroom mirror selfie isn’t a matter of indecent exposure; it’s a matter of trying too hard. As I’ve previously written, if you must be shirtless on a dating app, it should look coincidental, not like you stripped down to your boxers for the explicit purpose of taking a shirtless mirror selfie for your profile.

So do I agree with Bumble’s stance on shirtless mirror selfies? Yes. Do I think they should be banned outright? No. I think you should be allowed to post whatever ill-advised photos you want to your profile. Moreover, if I’m going out with the kind of guy who would even want to post a shirtless mirror selfie, this is information I want access to up front.

That said, this whole incident, as you may recall, isn’t even about shirtless mirror selfies. It’s about a non-suggestive photo of a woman in a bralette and sweatpants, which would apparently be okay if it were taken outside? Because then it … wouldn’t look like underwear? Which is apparently the whole problem, despite the fact that women’s swimsuits have always resembled women’s underwear and it’s weird that we pretend they don’t in certain contexts?

Anyway, the whole ordeal is just another of the many weird, arbitrary ways in which female-presenting bodies are policed on the internet, as in life. The point is, if you want to rock out with your bras out, you can’t do it on Bumble, the most “feminist” of all dating apps.

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