‘Is Tinder Racist?’ Experiment Reveals the Challenges of Dating as an Asian Man

It’s no secret that Hollywood, with its stereotypical portrayal of Asian men and whitewashing of masculine Asian roles, has heavily contributed in the cultural castration of Asian American men.

Decades of cultural stereotypes of Asian men, portraying them as either villainous, undesirable, exotic, or outright devoid of masculinity, have long made them less attractive to women of all races.

Just a few years ago, Asian women would have preferred White men “even more +”, according to a 2009 review of dating site OKCupid’s data; in fact, women of all races seemed to strongly prefer White men, save Black women who were the only ones to rate Black men positively. Asian men were considered the least desirable race overall, with even Asian women choosing White men over them.

While an updated study from 2014 showed a significant increase in preference for Asian men among Asian women, Asian males are still rated negatively overall by women of other races.

To test this, the folks at ZMDEA devised an informal study to determine the reality of the Asian man’s dating woes via a social experiment. The group posted nearly-identical profiles of an Asian man and a White man on Tinder to find out which one would receive the most matches.

The experiment, featured in the YouTube video “Is Tinder Racist?”, was run twice with four different profiles (two models, two friends) each having 5,000 swipes observed within a 24-hour period.

While their friends remained anonymous for the study, for the White Male model they used photos of Matthew Noszka and for the Asian Male, they used Godfrey Gao’s images.

The results were unsurprising:


Both profiles with White males scored significantly higher than their Asian counterparts despite the only differences being their respective races.

“I almost feel like I don’t want to be brown,” one of the participants said of the results. “I feel ashamed to be myself. Because I understand that if I am myself…apparently, I’m not valued at the same level. Now that f*cks with me.”

Being the least attractive person in the dating scene can indeed be disturbing realization. To compete against white males in the dating market in the United States, single Asian males have to make $247,000 more annually, based on an actual study. 

BuzzFeed’s recent viral video on “male hotness” perfectly illustrates this discrepancy in how Asian males are viewed in general when they pit an obviously attractive Asian guy (basically a stud) against random average-looking White males. Only in a Whitewashed world would it be an actual contest.

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