“Hi, I’m single and looking for love. I like long walks on the beach and someone with a sense of humour.”
Sitting at your computer, you take a deep breath and click the “Publish Profile” link.
The wondrous world of online dating has resided in your mind as a place where only desperate people go to find a mate.
It’s true that, today, more and more people are taking the plunge into the Internet dating world to explore the many fish in the sea. But, not all dating sites are the same.
One such site that has received a significant amount of media attention is BeautifulPeople.com, a dating site that separates the beautiful from the … not so beautiful.
Here’s how it works. You, ravishing dater, upload a picture of yourself (glossed up and Photoshopped, maybe) and go through a 72-hour judgment period, in which your profile is under the ruthless scrutiny of the BeautifulPeople.com community.
Members can rate you anything from “yes, certainly” (you make the attractive cut) to “absolutely not” (you are deemed an ogre), and research shows voters on the site hold extremely superficial criteria for beauty.
If, at the end of the 72-hour judgment period, you do not receive a certain percentage of positive votes, you are rejected from the site.
Think the odds are in your favor? Think again!
On average, one in eight applicants are accepted onto the site. Even once accepted, members can be kicked off the site for things like gaining weight over the Christmas break or getting a bad haircut.
“The site title BeautifulPeople.com is misleading; it sounds like it includes people who are beautiful in not just a physical, skin-deep sense,” explains McMaster student Alyssa Ennis, first-year Humanities student, based on her knowledge of the site.
“It’s cruel because applicants have to ‘audition’ to be beautiful, which is wrong. In the end, it just highlights people’s insecurities by ranking them in a virtual hierarchy.”
BeautifulPeople.com uses its virtual hierarchy to release statistics every year outlining the most and least attractive countries based on what percentage of their applying citizens are accepted onto the site. Are you curious to see which countries came out on top and which fell below the attractiveness cut-off?
The highest percent of male applicants who are accepted onto the site are from Sweden, Brazil, Denmark and Italy, and the lowest percent of male applicants accepted onto the site are from Germany, the UK, Russia and Poland.
For females, the list looks just a bit different. The highest percentage of female applicants accepted onto the site come from Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Brazil, while the lowest percentage of female members come from Korea, China, the UK and Germany. Canada falls right in the middle for both male and female applicants accepted.
“Rating countries by the percent of applicants that are accepted onto the site is an inaccurate and almost sad indication for how beautiful a particular country is,” says McMaster student Ibrahim Hasan, third-year Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour major.
“The argument of subjectivity comes up. Countries should be rated on how much emphasis their citizens put on attaining a certain physical look (i.e. plastic surgery rates), not how beautiful they are.”
Many people responded negatively to the statistics BeautifulPeople.com released, some taking more extreme measures than others.
In May of this year, the site was hit by a virus called “Shrek,” which accepted just under 30, 000 applicants onto the site without having to endure the judgment process.
The people responsible for this stunt are believed to be former employees and rejected members.
Greg Hodge, the site’s managing director, released a statement addressing those members who were falsely admitted onto the site: “We have sincere regret for the unfortunate people who were wrongly admitted to the site and who believed, albeit for a short while, that they were beautiful.”
For an apology statement, this one seems to dig the knife deeper into the hearts of rejected members.
In response, the media called Greg and the BeautifulPeople.com community shallow and extremely superficial.
BeautifulPeople.com has also been accused of aiding the spread of anorexia, bulimia and general body image issues.
Surely there is more to the definition of beauty than just a rock-hard body, shapely assets, glowing skin and facial symmetry.
BeautifulPeople.com encourages the eye of the beholder to only have sights for people who survive their strict rating system.
BeautifulPeople.com has embraced negative attention from the media, saying, “Our critics are fooling themselves.
They can’t argue with millions of years of evolution. Everyone naturally wants to be with someone they are attracted to.”
Thus, presumably being Darwin’s little helpers, the BeautifulPeople.com community supports the making of an “attractive” gene pool for the future.
The site is now offering a fertility forum called “Designer Babies” that hooks up attractive sperm and egg donors to perspective parents. Greg Hodge explains that one of the strongest prerequisites that recipients want in their donors is attractiveness.
But some researchers, such as Arthur Caplan, Director for the Centre for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that there is a chance features could blend together awkwardly, or that little Johnny could have his uncle’s not-so-beautiful physique.
Overall, whether it’s through a dating website or at a bar, we tend to look a bit longer at those who are attractive. But, I challenge you to look deeper instead of longer to aid your navigation through the dating world. Before hitting “Publish Profile,” think about who you are trying to attract and where you are trying to find them.