Dating, Hair, Relationships

What Is Hatfishing? Here’s A New Game-Changing Dating Label About Catfishing


This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s fall editorial intern Elizabeth Miller. Find them on Instagram at @Lizzy_7979. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at

As my friends and I have started entering our 20s, the topic of dating and relationships has been coming up more and more. Our older cousins are getting engaged, married and having kids. We know that we have time, but nonetheless, my friends have started heavily considering if they are ready to start seriously dating or not. We’ve been living away from home, and settling into the second half of college. We’ve become more comfortable and confident with ourselves. While I have not joined in on my friends’ adventures with dating apps, I always get to hear the latest scoop about who they’re matching with and talking to. 

A lot of these dating apps have pictures as a significant part of the profiles. The rise of online dating brought us new terms like catfishing. Then, the global pandemic gave us a spin-off of catfishing, maskfishing. But another term has become increasingly relevant. Though this term has technically been around since 2017, I had never heard of it until one of my friends reinvented the word last week. So what is hatfishing?

What Is Hatfishing?

Hat Witch GIF by BuzzFeed - Find & Share on GIPHY

Just off the top of your head, what do you think of when you see the word hatfishing? It is probably exactly what you think! Urban Dictionary says that hatfishing is just when someone uses a hat to hide that they are bald on dating apps. I think this definition can be expanded because my friends pointed out that other Zillennials use hats for similar reasons! This is what my friend meant when she defined hatfishing: people, particularly men, using hats to hide baldness, receding hairlines and thin hair, as well as sometimes to appear taller. 

My friends have come across an overwhelming amount of profiles where, in all of the pictures, a guy has exclusively worn some sort of hat. While hats can be a great accessory, only putting pictures with hats can get a bit suspicious. And, though it seems that everyone lies about their height on their profiles, it can be a deal breaker if the height on the profile seems tall, and is then followed by a group picture where the person is clearly shorter than most of the people in the group and they wear a hat on top of their hair to seem taller. The main frustration with this is not that someone has thinning hair, but that they are lying or hiding themself. It takes away from being able to authentically connect with someone.

How To Tell If You’re Being Hatfished

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How To Tell If You’re Being Hatfished

If you’ve seen a lot of profiles like the one mentioned above, but can’t tell if a person is a hat connoisseur or hatfishing, here are some signs that they might be hatfishing.

  1. They wear hats in most of their pictures, even when a hat does not seem to go with their outfit: If someone wears a hat in most of their pictures, they may just like hats. But, someone who is fashionably inclined can usually tell if a hat goes with their outfit. If they’re wearing the same ratty baseball hat to a formal event in their pictures, they might be hatfishing.
  2. Selfies and close-ups are grainy, blurry, or visibly use heavy filters: We all want to look our best in our pictures, so using some light filters is normal. But, when pictures get so grainy that it is hard to tell what someone looks like, it can indicate they are hatfishing. Check for inconsistency with the lighting and shadows in the pictures.
  3. Other linked social media pages and their content: In my opinion, having other social media accounts linked is a green flag, because a person generally is more willing to share about themselves. But, if all the pictures are the same and I’ve already become suspicious of their potential hatfishing, I would steer clear. 

That being said, I think it is important to restate that having thin hair or insecurities with your hair or height isn’t bad or wrong. Hatfishing, especially in the dating context, becomes an issue when it is blatantly lying and therefore impacts the connection. I think this word is super relevant to current trends, and it should become a new staple label for online dating.

What do you think about this new term? Tell us about your experiences with hatfishing in the comments!

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