is “curvy” code for something?

I recently had a brief, back-and-forth-a-few-times exchange with a fellow on that online dating site. And then, in the middle of a message, he wrote:

One question, and I hope this doesn’t offend you, but are you curvy in the sense of having a curvaceous figure, or curvy in the sense of being a Big Woman?

You might imagine how completely taken aback I was by this sort of thing. After all, if one were to actually look at my photos, there is a clear picture of my full (and fully clothed) body among them. While I’m sitting down in the photo — and, if I’m honest, it’s possible that I was 10 pounds lighter in the shot — it’s clearly representative of my proportions and the way I carry my weight.

So, let’s get back to why, when it comes to describing my physique, I listed myself as “curvy,” rather than the other options…among them “athletic,” “average” and “a little extra.” Honestly, it’s mostly because I read somewhere that people with higher confidence are more likely to describe themselves as “curvy,” while their less-confident counterparts use other options to describe themselves. And it’s also a little because I have curvy friends who’ve mentioned they get more attention online when they describe themselves as “curvy.” I’d like to be thought of someone who is confident in my body, and I’d also like to attract attention.

At any rate, you can imagine all the questions that popped into my head, beginning with:

  • What kind of douchebag asks this sort of question when the conversation was going pretty well? I mean, wouldn’t you just suggest meeting for coffee for an hour of your life to assess in person whether you find the other person attractive? 
  • Is that his way of saying he’s into Big Women?
  • Is “curvy” a term that only women over a certain size are allowed to use? And, if so, what size is that? 14? 22? 8?
  • Didn’t he bother to look at my photos?
  • What’s on his priority list?

While sharing this story with a few girlfriends, they mostly agreed that this was a clear filtering opportunity — i.e. he’s not worthy. Another girlfriend shared that she’d been asked for her BMI during her short-lived experience with online dating.

What I’ve learned about myself is that I do feel pretty confident in my body or, at the very least, I’ve made peace with it. It’s not perfect, and I wish I were more svelte…but I also have other priorities in life right now that are more pressing than hitting the gym each day or starving myself. And I’ve found plenty of men who are very attracted to me.

What do you think this fellow meant by his question? What does it say about him? About our society?

The more I think about it, the more I suspect he has a thing for a larger, luscious Queen Latifah-like figure, but was afraid to come out and say so… And, frankly, I can see the appeal. I know a handful of Big Women who appear happy and full of life, their outer beauty manifesting as an expression of their inner joy.