Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What does “HWP” mean?  What does “Fit” mean?

These two terms show up in profiles fairly often.  “HWP” seems to have peaked and fallen off in popularity in recent years, supplanted by the somewhat more exact “fit”.

What does “HWP” mean?

“HWP” is short for “Height/Weight Proportionate”.

In theory, it is a shorthand way of saying “In good (enough) shape” — someone who isn’t scrawny skinny or fat.  In actual use, of course, it gets used to mean “In (really) good shape”, anything from “no tummy” to “no body fat at all”.

It probably encompasses “really good shape” variants like ripped, chiseled, buffed, and muscled, although those are usually specific enough states that if that is what someone is actually looking for, they will say so rather than using a hazier term like “HWP”.

The snark in me, of course, says that all heights and weights are proportionate.  It’s just that 2:1 (tall and super skinny) and 1:2 (short and round) aren’t the ratios being looked for by these people.

What does “Fit” mean?

With the term “fit”, it is the same issue, but at least its body consciousness is worn more up front.  No one is going to dub a guy over 40 with softness around the middle as “fit”.  (Even if he is technically just fine, health-wise for this age.)

Are they negative terms?

I am of a split mind on this.

In general, “HWP” and “fit” mean “Those without actively used gym memberships need not apply.”

Much of queer theory seems to be about finding the places and ways that the GLBTQ community (and society as a whole) is mean — where “mean” has three meanings: unkind, average, and poor quality.  As such, anything — anything! — which someone (anyone, include a queer strawman) could take negatively must be bad.  That includes any form of labeling and comparison of subjective qualities.  By disinviting people who don’t measure up to an arbitrary (and really, unspecified) standard, those people are put aside, put down, said to be lesser.

On the other hand, how can you express a physical (or mental, or spiritual) preference without shorthand labeling and comparison?  What is behind the use of “HWP” or “fit”?  Probably a desire for shared activities, a level of physical prowess, an avoidance of the health and social issues which people not “HWP”/not “fit” experience… and admittedly, a perhaps shallow focus on looks.  To get those concepts across, you either use shorthand idioms (like “HWP”), or you write a paragraph of prose which will make people skip over the profile.

(I know for myself, while I don’t use those terms in my profiles, I do pay attention to height/weight listings, looking for play or romantic partners who are “close enough” to my build.  If they are shorter yet heavier, or taller yet lighter, I know that the likelihood of a good match decreases a lot.  I admit it, I am looking for “HWP” in some form.)

In the end, I have to draw a difference between perhaps shallow “lookist” labeling of this sort and truly socially unacceptable ways of stating a preference (like the profile I saw recently that said “No blacks or Asians (not racist, just don’t like ethnic)”) or the ridiculously limiting ones (“Be between 27 and 29”).  “HWP” and “fit” can be used negatively, and certainly can be read than way, but the terms are not inherently bad.

(Yeah, I know queer theory mavens will go off on me for stuff in this post.  Thanks, but references to Foccault, repressed patriarchy, and emotional intelligence put me to sleep.  No need to share.)