"You're a drunk single angry mean loser who will never have children."
-James, September 2016
The Text that started it all. The Original #Sareytales. When I received this hateful message, it stung. I hate admitting it, but it hurt. And almost instantly the idea to turn these ugly words into beautiful art popped into my head. Although, perhaps the concept had been churning for some time, and I just needed this one malicious text to motivate me to do something about it.
For the past 3 months, I have been creating #Sareytales on nearly a daily basis. It's been a cathartic, exhausting and exhilarating experience. At times, it seems to consume my life, my every thought and dream. It's become something bigger than the words it was inspired by. I almost forgot about James and his text. Until last night.
I received his text (featured above) September 2, 2016. Last night, almost exactly 3 months later, an email from James appears in my inbox with the subject line "Want to apologize". Totally shocked and somewhat curious, I opened it. It was a short but honest email. He said he was sorry for his awful words and explained they came from a place of insecurity. I was actually surprised he confessed to the latter, I assumed he felt entitled to his cruelty and never thought about their effect.
I wasn't sure if I should reply to the email or ignore it entirely. A part of me just wanted to send him the #Sareytales design he inspired. But we are imperfect beings and I have no room for grudges in my life. Instead, I replied saying thank you, that I appreciate his email. And that his words really inspired me :)
It couldn’t just be me, could it?
“You’re kinda fat anyways”
“When was the last time you swallowed”
“Now I see why you’re single you hag”
“You only have one more year to get pregnant”
“Give me a good blowjob”
So many texts. So many creepy, mean and just plain cruel messages from strangers on every dating app imaginable. All unsolicited. From tinder, OKCupid, Plenty of Fish, and even the “higher quality” paying sites like match.com and jdate.com. There’s no way I could be the only one getting all this hate.
After a particularly nasty text message from a guy I had been on one date with, something clicked. I knew I wouldn’t reply to him, it would be beneath me, and my sense of pride as a single woman. But I felt like I needed to take control somehow. I wanted to share my story, I wanted to prove to myself (and a few other people) that I wasn’t alone. That’s when the idea to create Sareytales emerged.
It’s entertaining to read other peoples’ dating disasters, and it’s by no means a unique concept (there are many IG accounts like tinderinyour30s and texts from your ex that post the terrible text messages people get). But what I was hoping to accomplish was something different. Something empowering, and powerful. And totally cathartic for me as a single woman.
Combining my passion for art and design with my portfolio of online dating fiascos, I started turning all the terrible text messages I had received into typographic designs, some with humorous illustrations like penises, boobs etc., and then placed them in a totally ironic setting. For instance, one message I received simply said “when was the last time you swallowed”. Boom. He ends up in a fine art museum next to a statue of a nude woman. Another guy tells me that he “really needs to eat some pussy”. Next thing you know, he’s in a lovely picture frame in a family room.
Almost immediately I realized that this was something bigger than just my own dating mishaps. Women started reaching out to me with their own tragic texts. They felt angry, violated and . Feelings I was all too familiar with. I decided to start taking submissions and began to incorporate other women’s stories into Sareytales. And more keep pouring in every day.
I’m beginning to realize that it isn’t just me, not at all. Unfortunately, that’s not a good thing. But I think that turning these creepy texts into humorous and ironic works of art is a way to take back control of the online dating game.
It's story time. Designs created using real texts from my online dating experience.
Recently, after a particularly nasty text message from a guy I had been on one date with, something finally clicked. I knew I wouldn’t reply to him, it would be beneath me, and my sense of pride as a single woman. But I felt like I needed to take control somehow. I wanted to share my story, I wanted to prove to myself (and a few other people) that I wasn’t alone. That’s when the idea to create @Sareytales emerged.
I’ve been online dating since the beginning, literally, I was one of the first users of Jdate’s beta site back in 2001. I’ve had my share of relationships over the past 15 years or so, but somehow always came back to these dating sites, and now dating apps, during the “in-between” boyfriend times. And lately, I’ve noticed an alarming trend. Increasingly hostile, harassing and vulgar messages from men I have never met, let alone initiated conversation with. I would share the messages I received with my friends, both men and women, and their reaction were always astonishment, disgust and often laughter. I guess I had become numb to the true ridiculousness of the comments/messages/texts I had been getting...and that angered me. So this past summer, after a particularly cruel message someone sent me, something clicked. These words, these mean, thoughtless, ugly words, could become something more. Something ironic, funny, relevant and real. Using my background in graphic design, and current single status, I decided to do something about it.
I created Sareytales initially as an inside joke for me and my friends, a way to poke fun at how insane online dating could get. And it caught on. Possibly because of the political climate, the overwhelming presence of social media, the new dating apps popping up almost daily, whatever it is, Sarytales has tapped into the inner warrior we sometimes forget we own. Let’s not sit back and let cyber bullies abuse the power of the internet. It’s time fight back, with more than just words. These are my stories...