If you’ve ever referred to a swipe-based dating app as a “meat market,” you’re going to love the MeatFace campaign. It’s a collaboration from the dating app Siren and the creative studio Hello Velocity that lets users create pictures with slabs of meat covering their faces. Anyone can upload a selfie or a pull a pic from their library and the MeatFace face detection algorithm automatically puts a slab of steak over their face, with cut outs for eyes and mouth. Those pics can then be uploaded to the user’s dating site of choice along with the hashtag #MoreThanMeat, turning the app into a visual meat market with actual meat instead of human faces.
Siren founder Susie Lee says that the goal of the campaign is to draw attention to the idea that swipe-based dating apps are hella objectifying and may not be the best way to go about dating. For one thing? We’re all pretty mean on them.
“You get really judgy,” Lee tells Bustle. “You become a much meaner human being, I find, in a high school, cliquey, judgy kind of way. Wouldn’t it just be better then to slap a bunch of meat on people’s faces and be like, ‘Judge me on a piece of chicken!’ Or salmon. Or steak, because that’s really what you’re reducing people to.”
I asked Lee what she thought of the argument — which Tinder founder Sean Rad has put forward in defense of his app many times — that we judge people on looks even in person and that’s usually the first point of attraction even when we’re not on apps. She agreed that looks are undoubtedly part of the attraction, but by no means are they enough information to make an informed decision about whether or not you’re interested in someone.
“Whenever I sit and talk to somebody, I definitely think if they’re cute or not cute, but there are far more cues as to whether or not a person is ‘attractive’ than just a photo,” Lee says. “You might have someone who’s super cute in terms of photogenic qualities but then you talk to them and you’re like, ‘Oh my god, this person is super boring.’ Or kind of racist. Or annoying. And immediately they become less attractive to you.”
Lee also pointed out that online dating is the only area of our life where we judge people based solely on a photo.
“In no other circumstance would you choose any kind of relationship based just on a photo,” she says. “Not even your plumber! So why is it in this one realm — which is a place where we like physical intimacy and a certain kind of vulnerability — we’re like, ‘Yeah, that photo was hot.’ And then that’s it.”
And while MeatFace clearly has a bigger social mission attached, Lee also hopes that people get that it’s also funny. The MeatFace website describes it as “absurdist at its core” and Lee says that so far people are either getting the humor or they’re just… Not. She’s cool with either, though, as long as people are talking about online dating and how it affects our most human interactions.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; MeatFace; Twitter