Desi Dating Apps Versus Your Aunty’s Biodata

by Salwa Tareen — Follow @BrownGirlMag

With winter finally settling in it is officially “Find Bae” season, the thought of arriving alone to countless parties, constant reruns of “Love Actually,” and the hope of finding a soulmate in the new year present more reminders of singledom than any other time of the year.

In an effort to change this fate, desi millennials looking for love will likely turn to dating apps. A relatively new phenomenon, the desi dating app offers a modern alternative to matchmaking Aunties, matrimonial websites, and biodata.

If you’re unfamiliar with this term, biodata is the equivalent of a marriage resumé, where an individual presents personal information and qualifications in order to be matched with or selected by a like-minded individual. Matrimonial websites, such Shaadi.Com, helped trim biodata to a few basic categories for users to create an attractive online profile. Not surprisingly, an individual’s age, height, complexion, religion, ethnicity, education, and occupation are among the most common categories.

Just as matrimonial websites slowly replaced traditional matchmaking, so too are desi dating apps seeking to revolutionize how South Asians find love in the modern age. But are these apps really so different from that Aunty passing around photos of eligible suitors out of a burlap handbag?

More importantly, how have the conventional methods of evaluating potential partners been incorporated or challenged in these apps? As desi dating apps make casual dating more acceptable and increase one’s choices of potential partners, do they push desis to see each other in new ways or rely on old assumptions?

In an effort to better understand the evolution of biodata and how desis evaluate each other, I set out on a quest to join every desi dating app the Apple App Store had to offer. I created profiles for a total of 10 apps, all marketed towards or largely used by South Asians. Rather than list individually what each app offers, my observations below are aggregated in order to demonstrate overall trends.

  • Disclaimer: No unassuming Brown Boys were harmed in researching or writing this article.*

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Salwa Tareen is a recent college graduate, community organizer, and writer from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Through her work, she seeks to explore the intersections of language, identity, and politics whether it’s in the form of a poem, dialogue, essay or literature review. In her spare time, as a Pakistani-American woman born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Canada, Salwa enjoys crafting clever quips to the question: “No, where are you really from?”

Originally published at on January 4, 2016.