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An Interview with Sarey Ruden

Personal Stories

Hi Sarey! We are huge fans of “Sareytales: The Art of Online Dating” and love following your artistic process on Instagram. Thank you so much for your time today!

Do you consider yourself to be a feminist? How do you define feminism?

I consider my self a “modern feminist”.

I think the term “feminist” is often associated with such a myopic, and very cliche sense of what the term really means. To me, feminism is knowing what you want and going for it, regardless of societal expectations. Feminism is a state of mind. It’s believing in equal opportunities for all intersections of women. Feminism is NOT man-hating.

What inspired you to create Sareytales?

Nearly 3 years ago I received a really horrible message from a guy I had been on 1 date with. It was so hurtful that for a second, I sat there stunned, and then began laughing. It was in that moment that I had an epiphany. I was going to turn that nasty text message into something beautiful. Luckily, I had a background in art and design, along with a vault of other equally foul messages from dating apps that were just waiting for a purpose. In that first weekend I created 10 or so “designs” inspired by various messages. I had no idea what I was doing, but something just clicked. I had never felt so “right” designing anything before, and I haven’t looked back sense.

[A message Sarey received]

[Her artistic response to the message]

We’re consistently flabbergasted by the outrageous messages you – and so many other women – receive via online dating apps. A lot of them are pretty rage- inducing. How do you turn your anger into inspiration and/or action?

Well, it is definitely a practice I am still perfecting. Even though I have seen A LOT of crazy stuff, certain messages still get under my skin (re: abortion/reproductive rights and religious intolerance). I’ve trained myself to exit the dating apps when I feel myself getting worked up. It’s a balancing act though. Because it’s those messages, those conversations, that generate the most provoking and powerful art.

At Feminists Act!, we’re focused on helping people determine how they can take action on issues that affect people who identify as women and girls in the United States. What are some of the ways you recommend folks take action on feminist issues?

First of all, I applaud you and your team for providing this incredible resource. I am certain you are changing minds, inspiring others, and saving lives every day.

Personally, I have found solace in networking with other women in my area who have similar outlooks as I do regarding our role as women (and those who identify as women) in society. Having a safety net of strong, supportive and inspiring women can really elevate who you are as a person. I recently joined a feminist book club started by the amazing Ann Lewis (, which I am super excited about. Taking action on feminist issues can be as simple supporting local women-owned businesses or attending a fundraiser.

[Another message Sarey received]


[Another of her creative interpretations of the message]

Another thing we try to do well at Feminists Act! is amplify existing voices, organizations, and resources, especially folks from underrepresented or marginalized communities. Do you have any recommendations for people to follow on social media, articles to read, organizations to know, etc.?

Yes! I recently crossed paths with an inspiring woman who is taking the settlement money she received from a sexual abuse case and using it to put up billboards across the country in areas where abortion rights hang in the balance. The billboards all feature art from feminist artists and all provide thoughtful commentary on body-autonomy and reproductive rights. I commend her on her bravery and generosity.

Any parting words for the Feminists Act! community – especially fellow artists and/ or folks navigating online dating?

Online dating isn’t all dick pics and and anti-feminist slurs. I have met plenty of reasonable, pleasant guys on these apps, and messages with even more. That being said, I think it is important to always have your guard up when you’re on dating apps. Don’t let some random guy convince you to give him a chance if you aren’t feeling it. We have intuition for a reason, and I think that social media provides a smokescreen that obscures our ability trust our gut. Never let anything someone messages you make you doubt yourself. You know you better than anyone else. Period. And, at the very least, if you do get a creepy message, take a screen shot of it and send my way :)

Lastly, I said it before and I’ll repeat it, Feminist Act is the type of resource we need more of. You are providing a priceless service, thank you!

Thank you so much again!

Sarey is a creative director and graphic designer from Detroit, MI. After years of online dating disasters, she became inspired to turn all the creepy, cruel and often funny text messages she received into works of art called Sareytales. Follow @sareytales on Instagram, Twitter and facebook for more of The Art of Online Dating.

 All views and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the author.