Vinayana, 27, is a writer and also has a condition called cerebral palsy.
Not my normal
I was never active on dating apps because I feel one cannot meet the man of your dreams by swiping left or right. And as a woman with cerebral palsy, I didn't want to get into something without meeting the person.
Anyways, I was up for experimenting with something new in life. After days of research, I found out that Bumble was the safest dating app for women because women get to message first here. So I will be saved from unsolicited messages, I thought.
I made my profile after entering a few details. I was getting to know new people when a message 'verify yourself' flashed on my screen. The application wanted me to strike the pose by keeping my head straight and doing the victory sign with my hand.
This would have been a normal pose for other people, but for me, it was a nightmare. Due to my condition, cerebral palsy, I can not control my body movements. I tried to get the pose right a number of times but failed. My body shook every time I tried to pose right. I felt disappointed!
Fight for equality
I haven't personally been on many dates in real life so I thought that going virtual was the best way for me. But alas, that feeling lasted for a short while. I felt frustrated, sad and rejected - even without making any account.
Why is it so difficult for people with disabilities to date and fall in love? Don’t we have any sexual urges? Why are we marginalised? My mind was flooded with all these and many more questions!
I thought that to make a change, I will have to step forward and take charge. I wrote about it on my LinkedIn profile and tagged Bumble. I received huge support from my community and also from people I didn't know. My post was flooded with comments by people who not only agreed with me but also tagged Bumble to take corrective action.
I felt good and encouraged. Now, I was not alone in my fight for equality!
In everyone’s reach
Finally, after a couple of hours, the news reached Bumble. To my surprise, they replied to my post. And here’s what they said.
‘We're so glad you got in touch. Our Support Team can help you get verified. If you reach out here, they can walk through an alternate option. In the meantime, we also want to acknowledge that people shouldn't have to ask for an alternate option. This is something that our Product Team is actively working to improve to make the platform as inclusive and accessible as possible. If there's anything else we can do to improve, we're all ears. We'd love to hear your thoughts’, said the message.
I felt good because my voice didn’t go unheard. It was in fact acknowledged by one of the world’s most popular dating apps that also promised to make their product as inclusive as possible.
Worth the effort?
With my Bumble account verified, I felt confident enough to experiment with other dating apps. However, the online dating world is not a cakewalk. I get strange comments like, 'Beautiful girl in a wheelchair' or 'You are too beautiful to be disabled' and the best one was, ‘You are an inspiration!’
Come on, I didn't put myself on a dating app to inspire someone! I came here to find a date, just like everyone else. Is it so difficult for people to understand? Why can’t we normalise love and disability?
Frankly, I am fed up with being on a dating app now because all people are either fake or too eager to date. Yes, I have also had stalkers!
For now, I have now stopped using dating applications altogether. I strongly believe I would surely end up meeting the love of my life, wherever he is, with or without a dating app!
About the author: Vinayana Khurana is pursuing M.Phil in English literature from Delhi University. She is a woman with Cerebral palsy but that is not her identity. She's a writer, a poet and a Comic Artist. You can reah her out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn