Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Online dating is rooted in first impressions through images. Because of this, users of these apps tend to alter their profile pictures to fit a certain criteria that they believe will attract more matches. For people of color, this benchmark is based upon fair skin and European facial features. This has led me to ask, how is colorism reinforced in online dating apps for Indian Americans, and more specifically though, how are the users of these apps portraying themselves in their own profiles as it relates to colorism? Due to various factors Indians with darker skin tend to feel pressure from friends, family, and the media to lighten their skin to fit the standard of beauty that is based upon European features. Technology grants certain affordances through lighting, camera angles, and editing techniques, in which users are able to enhance their features to fit the standard of beauty. If the lighting is not to their favor, then multiple levels of photo editing will take place to cover up blemishes, dark spots, or lightening their skin altogether. My study highlights how Indian Americans navigate societal pressures of beauty as it relates to colorism in online dating apps. There is a gendered component because women are held to higher levels of criticism from society in terms of beauty. Thus, they go through greater lengths through skincare, makeup, photo-taking, and editing to ensure they fit into the beauty standard. This study found that while the women were pickier than men in how they presented themselves in their online dating profiles, for 3/5th of the participants, they did not place value on skin color when looking for a partner in online dating apps.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Available for download on Saturday, February 03, 2024

Included in

Sociology Commons