The First Filters Are Your Eyes:
RACE, GENDER, AND REPRESENTING THE BODY AS AN ONLINE DATER
Written by Madison Tilton
On March 25th, 2021, Honors students and HEP faculty welcomed Dr. Shantel Buggs as she presented “The First Filters Are Your Eyes: Race, Gender, and Representing the Body as an Online Dater,” which discussed her research on how multiracial women perceive themselves and others in the online dating sphere. This event, hosted by Honors faculty Dr. Azat Gündoğan, was one of several organized by Florida State University’s Honors Experience Program as part of the “3D” (Discuss, Dialogue, and Deliberate) collection, which serves to enrich students’ perspectives through interactive discussions and seminars.
As an Assistant Professor in FSU’s Sociology Department and the African American Studies Program, Dr. Buggs specializes in culture, race, gender, and intimacy. More specifically, her research studies how these areas overlap and influence the ways in which people build romantic relationships. “The First Filters Are Your Eyes” focused on these areas, while also including topics from Dr. Buggs’s dissertation, which can be found here.
As a culmination of her work, the presentation featured testimonies from numerous multiracial women on how they interact in the racialized world of online dating, as well as the impressions they receive from potential partners. It also explored and challenged the concepts of interracial relationships as social progress, color blindness, transformations of intimacy, how race influences desirability, and whether online dating has replaced the traditional venues to meet partners. Dr. Buggs’s presentation was then followed by a question-and-answer session, during which many of the Honors and HEP students in attendance took the opportunity to gain a deeper insight into her field of study.
Those who attended the event found Dr. Buggs’s research to be extremely eye-opening regarding the everyday experiences of multiracial women. Her points on the connections between race and intimacy were particularly relevant against the backdrop of America’s current political and social turmoil; in concurrence with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and similar cultural organizations, people are noticing just how deeply race and ethnicity impact every aspect of society. Just as Dr. Buggs emphasized in her presentation, it is crucial that we acknowledge these factors when analyzing social behavior if we wish to gain a more comprehensive and informed perspective of American life as a whole. Studying the dating patterns of multiracial women is a subtle yet entirely necessary facet of a much larger racialized system, and is thus one of the first steps in understanding race relations on a macroscopic level. Further details regarding Dr. Shantel Buggs’s work can be found here.
Madison Tilton is a first-year Honors student from Pine Island, FL, majoring in Editing, Writing, and Media. She plans to double major in Psychology and pursue a career in law. Having recently taken “Social (In)Equalities: Social Construction of Differences and Inequalities” with Dr. Azat Gundogan over the spring, she is also looking forward to taking many more HEP classes in the semesters to come.