Do gentlemen really prefer blondes? Do they seek out redheads more than brunettes? Well, I set out to discover the truth recently, as I embarked upon a little Tinder experiment to answer a little question for myself: How do men react to different hairstyles? This urge wasn't rooted in the "all women should be seeking the approval of men" trope or whatever, but out of general, slightly sociological curiosity. Since I've sported quite a few hairstyles over the past two years, putting my appearance to the test was pretty simple. However, that's not to say it came without trepidation.
Until recently, I'd been in a longterm monogamous relationship since before Tinder's launch in 2012, and hadn't since had reason for or interest in swiping. Although I'm fairly accustomed to the occasional catcall or genuine compliment, I'm acutely aware (especially now) that the online dating and hookup game operates on an entirely different level than I once knew.
There is such a vast sea of users, and having recently crossed the threshold of that oft-dreaded benchmark in every woman's life (I turned 30), I wasn't entirely sure what information I'd be able to glean from the experiment. But in the name of science, I carried on gathering images of myself with three distinct hairstyles: Long and red, short and blonde, and finally — my natural hair type — long and brunette. While I can't say I definitively proved that blondes have more fun or that redheads are perceived as being more wild or any other standard cliche, I can say that the results surprised me.
In order to keep my results as balanced as possible, I chose to create three separate Tinder accounts, all of which utilized my existing Facebook photos, and the following personal information:
- Four images of myself as either a "redhead with long hair," a "blonde with short hair," or a "brunette with long hair"
- My first name
- My age
- My Facebook likes
- A brief, rather ambiguous tagline
I chose to swipe right for the first 100 suggested matches per account, regardless of my personal taste or attraction level. My intent here was to gather an unbiased, fairly random data set, knowing that many of the men I swiped would not be my type, nor would I necessarily be theirs. I kept each account active for an hour and a half and monitored the likes, matches, and messages that popped up. I didn't respond to any messages during this time, and by the end of the time frame I deleted the account and created the next hair category's profile.
Each account had the following universal restrictions:
- Show male matches only
- Show matches within 50 miles of my location
- Show matches between the ages of 28 and 38
Now, any good experiment not only needs controlled variables, but also a hypothesis. Based off of nothing other than personal preference and confidence levels, I hypothesized that if I were to create three different Tinder profiles based off of redhead, blonde, and brunette hair colors, then the redheaded version of myself would be the most approached or swiped profile.
Care to read the results?
Profile 1: Redhead
I'm a huge fan of red hair. I think redheads are absolutely brilliant and beautiful, whether their locks are natural or dramatic and dyed. So, it's no surprise that my hypothesis for this experiment included a win for the redhead profile. As it turned out, however, this was actually the profile with the least amount of reciprocated matches as well as the least messages and meaningful messages (i.e. ones from men who cared to write more than a single word).
Reciprocated matches: 58/100
Messages received: 11
Messages showing genuine interest, aka longer than "hey:" 4
Profile 2: Blonde With Short Hair
One might argue that this profile started out with the potential for some predisposed biases, seeing as it lead with a pretty strong Star Wars vibe. However, I figured 'tis the season for costumes and Star Wars fandom, especially considering the recent release of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer.
Considering this is both my current look and my least favorite (as it's really just a transition from one hair color to another, and a shortcut for ease during travel), it's the profile I was most nervous about presenting. It was actually fairly well received, however, and stood more or less in the middle in terms of response.
Reciprocated matches: 72/100
Messages received: 17
Messages showing genuine interest, aka longer than "hey:" 7
Profile 3: The Natural Brunette
For years I've laughed away the notion that blondes have more fun. Not because I have anything against blondes, or any other hair color, style, or texture, for that matter. Simply because when all is said and done, I'm a natural brunette, and a girl's gotta stay true to her roots. However, even after years of family members encouraging me to stick with my natural color, I've still enjoyed dabbling in different hues, partially insistent that there could be a more appealing hair color out there for me.
But thanks to my Tinder experiment, I've discovered that this brunette has the most fun — and gets the most genuine interest from guys.
Reciprocated matches: 80/100
Messages received: 27
Messages showing genuine interest, aka longer than "hey:" 6
It's difficult to pinpoint male appearance preferences from such a simple experiment. Clearly, in order to really draw any sort of valuable conclusions about hair color and style preferences, I'd need a far greater variety of subjects over a much longer span of time. But, when it comes to having my hypothesis proven wrong, I'm surprised. Maybe it has something to do with color palette and skin tone, or the way my brown hair matches my eyes, but my brunette profile had far better success rates than the other two incarnations. Of course, I wouldn't be so bold as to claim men on Tinder prefer brunettes on a whole, but they certainly seemed to prefer me as one.
So, perhaps the takeaway is that there seems to be a general lean toward more natural appearances, and that men between the ages of 28 and 38 are often seeking women who present a more genuine version of themselves. The fact that my brunette profile showed the least skin, the least full body imagery, and still managed to inspire the greatest quantity of messages and reciprocated matches certainly seems to imply that even on Tinder, guys have a sense of — and an interest in — women who embrace themselves for who they are. That, at least to me, is a reassuring notion.
Images: Jen Schildgen