Bumble Only Allows Swimwear If, and Only If, It Appears You Plan to Swim in It

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Photo: Eric Baradat (Getty Images)

Last week, Los Angeles-based artist Cali Rockowitz uncovered an interesting loophole in Bumble’s shirt regulations. After blocking her numerous attempts to upload photos in a bralette, the company told her that her attire would be allowed only if she’d posed in it outside, and if it were a plausible bikini.


Buzzfeed, which published photos and the back-and-forth with Bumble reps, reported that Rockowitz had first uploaded an Instagram-friendly portrait in sweatpants paired with a simple black bralette, set in a sunlit art studio in front of a canvas. On December 9th, the company sent a standard message explaining that underwear is not allowed on the platform. After another try with an alternate image from the same shoot, in which her hair mostly covers the bralette, a rep told her that she is “totally allowed to have a bikini or shirtless photo,” but only in plein aire. “If you’re indoors, it looks too much like underwear,” they wrote. After Rockowitz posted about the ordeal on her Instagram stories, Bumble removed yet another months-old photo of her a blazer and pants, with a bralette replacing the shirt.

Bumble doesn’t explicitly detail its rationale in its guidelines, but the indoor rule is part of Bumble’s 2016 bylaws written around bathroom selfies, an attempt to elevate itself above Tinder.

“In 2016, we banned shirtless bathroom mirror selfies in response to feedback from our Bumble community,” a representative wrote in a statement sent to Gizmodo, adding that “our research showed that profiles including those kinds of photos were the most swiped left on.” (A left swipe is the bad one.) Bumble added that the policy applies to all genders.

“Swimsuit photos are acceptable if you’re outside by the pool or on the beach as you’re in a natural setting to be wearing a swimsuit,” the rep continued. In other words, you can only show your sternum if your intent is pure.

Rockowitz edited the bralette-and-suit photo so she appeared to be in front of the Pyramids of Giza and Mount Rushmore, yet Bumble stuck to its position, noting further that they could detect the trickery.

“That photo has been photoshopped, it was not originally taken outside,” a rep told her over DM.


It seems unlikely that Bumble would be eager to open the floodgates to less chaste images, as platforms have spent years in their convoluted endeavors to police boobs and nipples and their context. Bumble has staked its reputation on being the SFW app, and last year, Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd backed a Texas policy which outlawed unsolicited dick pics (“lewd” photos).

Gizmodo has reached out to Rockowitz for comment and will update the post if we hear back.


Update 12/28/2020 3:00 pm ET: In an email to Gizmodo, Cali Rockowitz said that she’s since received countless messages from people who’ve also had “completely harmless” photos removed from Bumble and will likely stop using the app. “In my opinion, the rules that Bumble has laid out on an app that’s meant to empower women, create connections, and spark intimacy seem counterintuitive,” Rockowitz said. “I think people should be able to express themselves in a manner in which their potential partners can see who they really are.’”



As an app, I like Bumble’s core philosophy of letting the women message first. What I don’t like is their sorting algorithm. At the time I was active, they seemed to sort potential matches via popularity (i.e. perceived attractiveness) rather than any other meaningful metric.

Living in LA, this has the (unexpected?) consequence of pushing influencers/aspiring actresses to the top of the pile. I’m talking Basic with a capital “B”. Bokeh-filled headshot? Check. Bikini shot? Check. Posing in front of angel wing graffiti? Check. “Celebration” shot in a national park? Check. Group shot at a party where I can’t find the actual person I’m supposed to be checking out? Check.

That was basically the composition of the first 10-15 profiles. They all looked homogenous (and overwhelmingly white; no, I did not put on any race filters). The 10-15 that followed had more “normal” (i.e. non-influencer) photos, but were still incredibly homogenous. Instead of influencers, it had swapped to showing the “girl next door” types: lots of family photos, dog photos, Xmas sweaters, etc. I had to swipe through literally 20-40 profiles before I got to profiles that showed some level of uniqueness and personality.

Just for shits and giggles I created a fake female profile to see if the same thing came up for women as it did for men....and it did.

(Disclaimer: Am happily engaged to someone I met via Coffee Meets Bagel; this is just my experience before I met them, when I was still checking out the apps)

Tangent: How does Bumble handle LGBTQ+ messaging? Their original concept (women message first) kind of relies on “traditional” heterogenous relationships.