What a Difference a Wig Makes (on Dating Apps)

There’s nothing worse than being in the hot seat in the group chat. After nearly two years of, “Wait, we’re not bringing dates, are we?,” my friends were over my singledom. Blame it on their adorable-yet-aggressive pursuit of my happiness. I wasn’t on the dating scene and was out of reasons why.

“Srsly, when is the last time you’ve been on a date?”
“If you’d talk to someone who slid in your DMs, an app is pretty much the same thing.”
“I’m gonna make a page for you and make all the matches.”
“Why hasn’t someone made that into a reality show? Date My Friend, Wednesdays on Bravo.”

After a fair amount of prodding, a few secondhand testimonials, a heavy dose of shade and some semi-legitimate threats, I appeased my friends with a profile on Bumble. I set sail on the swiping seas with only a few words of wisdom as my guide — write a witty bio, post a mix of selfies and full-length pics, and whatever you do, only post photos where you “look like you.”

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Looking “like myself” is easier said than done. Almost two years ago, I cut off all my hair and started a natural hair journey. At the same time, I began experimenting with wigs. What started as a reasonable solution to a choppy, at-home haircut evolved into a means of self-expression and the cherry on top of my all-black wardrobe. If you’ve never looked at an outfit and thought, “Damn what this really needs is an aquamarine bob,” you’re missing out, I assure you.

How would I be able to assemble photos that “look like me” when I’m prone to multiple wig changes a day?

Someone (most likely a non-wig wearer) once said the most logical approach was the best approach. I uploaded a few pics to my Bumble in my simplest wig, a mid-length curly style in black. It most closely resembled my natural ‘fro, pretty much the hair equivalent of Cher Horowitz’s “most capable looking outfit.” For some reason, I found myself approaching the world of dating apps with all the fanciful romance of a conservative interview or driving exam.

After making an initial splash on the app, I started to flatline. I kept attracting the same type of guy. Perhaps you know him? The shirtless bathroom-pic-snapping wonder with eerie eyes that imply, “I’ve beat the game. I swipe right on everyone and sit back and wait for my matches to roll in.”

After a week or so, I thought I’d swap out my pics for new ones featuring my latest purchase, a very sleek, very much the other Cher, jet-black center-part situation. Since I only had a few pics in my new style, I was stuck. (You never want to have less than a full profile of six pictures, I was told.) I figured I had nothing to lose and decided to go for a full portfolio of varied hairstyles. Bobs, lobs and fros in green, black, red and blonde with a newly updated bio stating that, “ever-evolving hair is part of the package.” My new chameleonic take on hair turns out to be a crowd pleaser and my queue grows tremendously. I was pulling surgeons, professional athletes, elected officials, motorcycle guys, cool dads, cute nerds and, as to be expected, an overflow of men who do hair.

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This by no means is a success story and I hope it isn’t reading as one. See, I throw on a wig the way anyone else would toss on a bangle. It seemed like a good idea to show would-be matches how I get down, but my fun little hobby is starting to become my gimmick. It’s literally all anyone can talk about. No one asks me where I grew up, the last concert I’ve been to or my favorite travel destination. If there’s a tactic to steer a conversation away from hair, I have not yet found it. Answering a million questions about the whole hair thing is exhausting and takes the fun out of it, tbh.

That being said, I most likely won’t be editing my pics. The single men within a twenty-five mile radius will just have to take me as I am, whatever that happens to look like.

Photos by Angelica Van.

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