Profile Photos

What is Kittenfishing? + How to Spot It and Avoid It

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Kittenfishing example, old and new photo and person

“Oh… that’s what you look like!”

Cue kittenfishing, catfishing’s softer cousin. Although it’s not full-on identity theft like catfishing, it still involves some sneaky photo faux pas like using massively outdated photos, heavily edited selfies, or photos that don’t look like you if you were to show up for a date tomorrow.

Why the rise of Kittenfishing?

you've got to be kitten me, kittenfishing gif

There’s no one answer, but it’s a bit of a self-purr-petuating cycle.

Dating apps come with their fair share of pressure. Everyone is showcasing their best side with hopes of standing out, and this pressure pushes people to use older, unrealistic photos.

We blame the rise of kittenfishing on the Pandemic Effect. With everyone stuck at home, dating apps exploded in popularity. But as time went on, those initial profile pics got a bit stale… and some singles are still using those same 2020 pics years later. This leads us to something we call the “saturation situation;” the longer people stay on apps, the more likely they are to reuse old photos, resulting in a dating app echo chamber of outdated selfies!

is anyone out there, island gif, about dating apps

How can I tell if I’m kittenfishing?

With a Photofeeler test, duh!

Jk jk, we don’t test two photos at once so there would be no way to tell. But, users will let you know if they feel like the photo is outdated, sometimes there’s clues. It’s worth it to test and garner feedback.

Besides that, a good rule of thumb is that your dating app profile photos should never be more than two years old— and that’s pushing it!

If you want to avoid disappointment and awkwardness, make sure your dating profile contains the most recent version of you. Hair color/length, facial hair, weight gain or loss, piercings, or basically anything that a normal person would consider individual identifying factors should be accurately displayed in photos.

Different appearances with hair and beard

One Redditor states, “If I have super old pictures on my profile, it’s because they were new pictures when I put them there, and the platform is trash.”

We get it. But you must look like your photos when you show up for a date, point blank.

If all your photos show you six years ago without a beard, and then you show up for the date aged by six years with a full-blown Gandalf stache– we’re going to feel played.

he had a beard gif

Sometimes, it’s hard to avoid the filtered version of you, as some phones come with a soft-skin beauty filter pre-built into their cameras. But, when you can avoid filter fishing, it’s in everyone’s best interest.

How to spot a Kittenfish? Warning signs to look out for

1. Picture purr-fect?

Do all their photos look professionally taken, with impeccable lighting and zero flaws? It could be too good to be true. The same goes for a roster of photos with the same outfit that looks like they were all taken the same day. We need to see some diversity here!

Different poses, same man, new clothing, dating app profile selection of photos

2. The same angle every time.

No matter what size, showing your body in photos is mandatory. Singles only set themselves up for possible disappointment by posting themselves from one angle or just their face. Real life comes with more than one angle.

woman taking photos of the same angle, dating app selection

Sidenote: If you’re nervous about showing your body, remember that you don’t want to date someone who doesn’t appreciate your body anyway.

3. A blast from the past.

If all their photos look like they were taken a decade ago, that’s a major red flag. While we all have throwback photos, seeing how someone looks in the present is important. If they’re reluctant to share recent pictures, they might be trying to kittenfish you with a younger version of themselves.

historical photo of man

4. Heavy on the filters.

As much as we’d like to appear airbrushed like a Vogue cover, it’s not reality. Dates may be outside, inside, in bad lighting, in golden hour– you never know. Show up as yourself, with your real skin, both in person and on the apps.

5. No casual shots.

If your love interest isn’t sporting any casual shots with friends or that look like they could have been taken on the phone– sound the kittenfish alarm.

Sidenote: Even if you’re an actual model and have tons of professional photos, we highly recommend including 1-2 normal phone pics or casual shots to lighten the suspicion.

How to deal with a Kittenfish

If you think you’ve hooked a kittenfish with archaic photos, don’t panic. Not all hope is lost; you just need to ask for more photos in a smooth way.

Here are four casual messages that’ll get you a photo without getting you flack:

The Selfie Request: “Hey! I’m curious, what does your selfie game look like? Send me one of your best!” (This works well if you’ve established a playful rapport.)

The Activity Prompt: “What are you up to today? Snap a pic so I can live vicariously through you!”

The Show and Tell: “You mentioned you were making [dish they mentioned]. Send me a pic of the masterpiece!”

The Compliment Approach: “I love your style! Send me a pic of your outfit of the day!”

If none of these work, you might be talking to a catfish instead of a kittenfish.

i need some ID gif

Another way to timestamp kittenfish pictures is with a reverse image search. You’ll be able to see how old their photos are, whether they are who they claim to be, and draw more confident conclusions about what to do next.

Always trust your gut. If your gut sends you alarm signals, politely decline or suggest meeting in a public place first.

Why do people Kittenfish?

There are several reasons why people engage in kittenfishing:

  • Insecurity: They may feel insecure about their appearance and believe that using old or deceptive photos will increase their chances of getting matches or attention.
  • Fear of rejection: They might worry that if they portray their true selves, they will be rejected by potential partners. Kittenfishing allows them to put forward a more appealing version of themselves.
  • Attention-seeking: Some individuals use kittenfishing to boost their egos and receive validation from others. They thrive on the compliments and attention they get from their altered or misleading photos.
  • Lack of self-awareness: Some people may not even realize they are kittenfishing. They might genuinely believe that their outdated photos accurately represent their current appearance.

How honest is too honest when it comes to dating photos?

overfiltered photo on dating app, kittenfishing dating profile photo
Before you ask… yes, this is an actual photo on Tinder. It’s not AI, but it might as well be.

Where’s the line between a flattering photo and full-on kittenfishing?

It’s a bit of a gray area. Some level of “enhancement” is almost expected on dating apps (think good lighting, a cute color grade). But when you misrepresent your current appearance, things get hairy.

Remember, the goal is to find someone who likes you for you, not the outdated version of you from five years ago. So be honest, be authentic, and let your true self shine through, even if it means a few extra laugh lines!

You may be surprised how well your newly updated photos of yourself are received—and there’s only one way to find out! Test your pics on Photofeeler for unbiased feedback to make you stand out from the crowd as yourself!