What a Difference a Wig Makes (on Dating Apps)

Bobs, lobs and fros in every color of the rainbow


There’s nothing worse than being in the hot seat in the group chat. After nearly two years of, “Wait, we’re not bringing dates, are we?,” my friends were over my singledom. Blame it on their adorable-yet-aggressive pursuit of my happiness. I wasn’t on the dating scene and was out of reasons why.

“Srsly, when is the last time you’ve been on a date?”
“If you’d talk to someone who slid in your DMs, an app is pretty much the same thing.”
“I’m gonna make a page for you and make all the matches.”
“Why hasn’t someone made that into a reality show? Date My Friend, Wednesdays on Bravo.”

After a fair amount of prodding, a few secondhand testimonials, a heavy dose of shade and some semi-legitimate threats, I appeased my friends with a profile on Bumble. I set sail on the swiping seas with only a few words of wisdom as my guide — write a witty bio, post a mix of selfies and full-length pics, and whatever you do, only post photos where you “look like you.”

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Looking “like myself” is easier said than done. Almost two years ago, I cut off all my hair and started a natural hair journey. At the same time, I began experimenting with wigs. What started as a reasonable solution to a choppy, at-home haircut evolved into a means of self-expression and the cherry on top of my all-black wardrobe. If you’ve never looked at an outfit and thought, “Damn what this really needs is an aquamarine bob,” you’re missing out, I assure you.

How would I be able to assemble photos that “look like me” when I’m prone to multiple wig changes a day?

Someone (most likely a non-wig wearer) once said the most logical approach was the best approach. I uploaded a few pics to my Bumble in my simplest wig, a mid-length curly style in black. It most closely resembled my natural ‘fro, pretty much the hair equivalent of Cher Horowitz’s “most capable looking outfit.” For some reason, I found myself approaching the world of dating apps with all the fanciful romance of a conservative interview or driving exam.

After making an initial splash on the app, I started to flatline. I kept attracting the same type of guy. Perhaps you know him? The shirtless bathroom-pic-snapping wonder with eerie eyes that imply, “I’ve beat the game. I swipe right on everyone and sit back and wait for my matches to roll in.”

After a week or so, I thought I’d swap out my pics for new ones featuring my latest purchase, a very sleek, very much the other Cher, jet-black center-part situation. Since I only had a few pics in my new style, I was stuck. (You never want to have less than a full profile of six pictures, I was told.) I figured I had nothing to lose and decided to go for a full portfolio of varied hairstyles. Bobs, lobs and fros in green, black, red and blonde with a newly updated bio stating that, “ever-evolving hair is part of the package.” My new chameleonic take on hair turns out to be a crowd pleaser and my queue grows tremendously. I was pulling surgeons, professional athletes, elected officials, motorcycle guys, cool dads, cute nerds and, as to be expected, an overflow of men who do hair.

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This by no means is a success story and I hope it isn’t reading as one. See, I throw on a wig the way anyone else would toss on a bangle. It seemed like a good idea to show would-be matches how I get down, but my fun little hobby is starting to become my gimmick. It’s literally all anyone can talk about. No one asks me where I grew up, the last concert I’ve been to or my favorite travel destination. If there’s a tactic to steer a conversation away from hair, I have not yet found it. Answering a million questions about the whole hair thing is exhausting and takes the fun out of it, tbh.

That being said, I most likely won’t be editing my pics. The single men within a twenty-five mile radius will just have to take me as I am, whatever that happens to look like.

Photos by Angelica Van.

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  • Agh! Man (Men)!!!! I was really hoping it would be a success story. Alas, men (on dating apps) are more often boring/uncreative than not.

    I really hope that one day somebody is like, “but who is the woman behind the wigs?” Best of luck to you!!!! 💗

    • Suzan

      Second that last part!
      I do have to say… those loose curls look so gorgeous on you, especially the blonde ones had me staring! And the sideswept black curls… Amazing! All gorgeous!
      Would love an update on the natural hair journey as well! Or do you keep it short now for the wigs?

      I think it is great fun you show your different hair persona’s in the dating app world. If I’d run into someone like you there I’d definitely assume you’re an interesting person with stuff to say!

  • Aydan

    Girl rock your truest self! I always have viewed dating apps as a confidence boost. When my confidence in dating is lowest, that’s when my friends push me to get on the apps and play the “game”. Now even after a few convos I have the strength and confidence to get off them completely and just interact with people I see out in the world. Not that this is easy by any means in New York, since people love their cliques, but it has worked in meeting and dating friends of friends. Dating is this thing we all (media, the world, everyone) love to button up into this very distinct set of guidelines, rules, whatever–anecdotally I can say its just not the case. Its what you make of it and def never settle for anything less than what you deserve, even if that means trying out something unexpected!!

  • BarbieBush

    Is there an underground wig retail situation happening somewhere? I have played around with some but any I come across that look even remotely not crazy and like real hair are super expensive. I have a nice one that I thought looked sort of passable but was told no..
    Is there any way to make them look more natural or any tricks/secrets for obtaining good ones? Random online retailers make me nervous for an investment.

    • ValiantlyVarnished

      Nope. All of my wigs are synthetic and look amazing. You just have to know where to look. And you also have to know the tricks to making them LOOK natural. All of which can be learned on YouTube. Seriously. I learned everything I know about wigs by watching YouTube reviews and tutorials.

  • KK

    Super interesting social/scientific experiment right here. Would def watch a documentary about this.

  • Jenelle

    Ok my biggest question for you is where do you get your wigs?!?!?! They look absolutely phenomenal and I desperately want to know!

  • ValiantlyVarnished

    I started wearing wigs last August to give my hair a break from heat and styling (while flirting with the idea of going natural, a commitment I still am waffling on despite not having processed my hair in six months!) and it’s AMAZING to me how men and even women treat you a bit differently depending on your haircut. I feel that at least this way you’re being honest with a guy about what he’s getting – which is a chameleon who likes to switch things up a lot!

  • lol I’m the same. I do it because I have had some awkward times dealing with men who either don’t like natural hair or don’t like weave. 6 pics on tinder. kinky twist, 2 plain black weaves, one weave with blonde highlights, one afro and the picture i have as my avatar here with bangs and a headwrap. Get over it lol!

  • OH AND JASMEEN how you gonna post wigs with no details? where do i buy these wigs? who makes them? how much are they? I NEED ANSWERS! HOW SWAY?! LOL!

  • bicoast

    Where’s the pic of your natural hair?

  • Jolie

    All of these styles are so pretty! Why do guys on dating apps take the most unique thing about someone and ALWAYS turn it into their only talking point? It’s like, if you love movies they’ll just ask you about movies constantly. I hope you meet someone who wants to get to know the real you, in all your wigs!

    • emilyisabean

      One time, in the spirit of irreverence, in a dating app profile I wrote that I was actually just a swarm of angry bees in disguise. Guess what literally every match I got decided to beat to death so much that I contemplated a “don’t bring it up, the bees are self conscious” disclaimer….it’s like they can’t not ruin fun things.

  • Miss J

    When I was six or seven, I used to fantasize about wearing wigs as an adult. At the time I was convinced that wearing wigs is what makes you an adult.

  • ‘If you’ve never looked at an outfit and thought, “Damn what this really needs is an aquamarine bob,” you’re missing out, I assure you.’

    Love that. The results of your experiment aren’t encouraging, but at least we got some great hair inspo. 🙂

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    this was such an interesting read! stay unapologetic 🙂