Why Bumble App’s Use Of The Term 'Loose' Is Problematic

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao
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From billboards to front pages in newspapers to advertisements on television, Bumble is everywhere it should be, making its presence felt. However, when one looks at these ads, the first thought to cross one’s mind is… are they kidding? Who in the world uses “not loose” as a marketing pitch, that too to millennial women? In an effort to come across as new-age and modern, the advertising team behind Bumble’s campaign seems to have fallen for a common and overdone cliché of redefining labels given to women in our society. "Loose" is an absurd adjective for any woman, independent or otherwise, it makes no sense to even use it to break certain stereotypes.



  • Bumble app's use of word "loose" in its ad campaign has not gone down well with many.
  • Gone are the days when women felt the need to justify that they are not loose for going out on a casual date.
  • Today, women lead their lives on their own terms, not feeling the need to justify anything to anyone.
  • Which is why Bumble's advertising strategy feels outdated.

We would still have let it pass had the word it chose to redefine wasn’t "loose"

What we have now is a women-centric app shouting out from every billboard and newspaper front page that women are not “loose” if they are into casual dating or busy or career minded etc. But then who said that certain women were "loose" in the first place? Why is there a need to justify being career-minded or into casual dating? It is like telling a working mother that she is not heartless if she leaves her young child at home to go to work? Because duh, she is not. There is no need to spell it out, or justify something that we already know isn’t wrong. Which is why Bumble's ad campaigns feel so misplaced, despite having its heart in the right place.

Perhaps Bumble is trying too hard to showcase that it is all about breaking stereotypes in our society. It is not easy for women to live their life on their terms without attracting labels. We have all been there, when being career-minded or believing in open relationships automatically gave you a tag. When desire for liberation and independence came at the cost of being socially outcast. When parents would marry you off in a hurry, to save themselves from the disgrace of padosis calling their wild daughter wayward or immoral. Women have fought hard against these labels, to be able to be financially independent. To be able to choose their partners on their terms. To be able to party into wee hours without having to care about what Sharma aunty and bade fufaji have to say about it.

It is awkward for millennial women, even in India to read the words equal and loose in bold letters on the front page of leading dailies, as if to assure them that “hey you aren’t doing anything wrong”


But we are way past that point where we had to explain it to the society that women are not loose if they are progressive or independent. Today, women believe in living their lives with a devil may care attitude. If some people are still holding on to certain regressive stigmas, then it is their problem. This is 2019! Women no longer bother to battle out the tag of "loose" for going on a casual date So this campaign feels like taking a step back and re-doing all the labour that we have already put into reclaiming a certain space, again. To put it plainly, it is outdated. It is time now, to let the word “loose” remain in its grave. Stop digging up its corpse in the name of breaking stereotypes in advertisements.

Besides the word "loose" was never wrong, it was how people used it that was wrong. So by telling people that women are not loose for casually dating or being ambitions, we are only approving their choice of the word. We are telling them that it was right to use the word loose in this context. And that we still care about the labels thrown our way for merely living our lives. How does that solve any purpose at all?

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Also Read: Rahul Gandhi’s Be A Man Jibe: Sexist Tropes In Public Discourse Must Go

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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