Tinderella: Online Dating and Postfeminist Media Culture

Elena Caoduro, Marta Cola

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Tinder is a social mobile app for dating, which allows users to like or dislike other users’ photos through a swiping motion, and interact via chat if both parties like each other. Launched in September 2012 and now used in 196 countries, Tinder is estimated to have 46 million users, with 1.6 billion swipes and 26 million matches per day as of January 2018. Its widespread use and global success brought the introduction of new jargon, including the term ‘Tinderella’, which can be defined as “an attractive female discovered through the Tinder dating application” (Urban Doctionary 2013), or “when a Tinder Date inexplicably turns into a fairy tale romance” (Urban Doctionary, 2016).
Drawing on the Cinderella metaphor and symbolism we will first consider the emergence of a production of Tinderella paraphernalia (books, photo project, theatre) as re-narration of fairy tales in light of cultural and social change. Tinderella can be seen as the modern Cinderella, even if her date ends in one-night stand or in a fairy tale romance. Secondly, by engaging with current vocabularies of aspirational transformation and selfhood, this chapter uses a discourse analytic methodology to consider dating advice in best-selling women’s magazines addressed to the modern-day Tinderellas.
The figure of the female dating-app user has become the focus of many advice columns in magazines, which in turn show the success of the dating app but also the required professionalism of the modern day wannabe girlfriend. The dating zeitgeist seems in fact steeped in neoliberal mind-set that demands agility, branding (a business mentality) and self-reliance. Aspiring partners must fend themselves in a competitive marketplace and leverage their best assets. Thus magazines such as, Glamour or Cosmopolitan, jump in to impart guidance on the best strategies to master online dating as contemporary fairy godmothers. Discussion will focus in particular on the postfeminist ethos of the advice, the transforming the self narratives and the effort to regulate every aspects of women’s conduct.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRetelling Cinderella: Cultural and Creative Transformations
EditorsNicola Darwood, Alexis Weedon
PublisherCambridge Scholar Press
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2020


  • postfeminism
  • online dating
  • Tinder
  • social media
  • metaphor
  • Cinderella
  • fairytale
  • Adaptation strategies


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