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|Written by Alexandra Trottier|
|Thursday, 04 March 2010 00:00|
What is it that makes a great love story? How can we be sure our love will last forever? And how can we find our best match in the first place?
According to the dating website Beautifulpeople.com, the main focus in selecting a mate is, you guessed it, being beautiful.
By now you may have heard about the infamous site. It made headlines and shocked everyone when it came to Canada nearly two years ago. Managing Director of the website Greg Hodge refers to Beautifulpeople.com as a "coveted community" where beauty is determined in a democratic process -- candidates must be voted on by existing members. He admits to the site's lack of political correctness in an unapologetic manner, stating that it is merely a reflection of society.
"If you're in a bar in a romantic situation and you're going to approach someone with a romantic inclination, you're going to approach someone you're attracted to, at least initially," Greg Hodge told Canada AM when the site first launched. "There's certainly nothing shallow about that: it's human nature."
Well, Hodge may be right about that. It is human nature to initially approach someone you are attracted to, and, while beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, the "beholders" on this website seem to define beauty in very narrow terms. The profiles of the people I have seen are all beautiful in the traditional sense - tight, sculpted bodies with pushed up breasts for the women and six-pack abs for the men. These are simply unrealistic expectations for most of us.
Beyond beauty pictures the website also asks profile questions, but these continue down a shallow path. Questions include your height, your weight, and your body type (in case you couldn't tell from the picture). It also asks your income and the imperative question we all want to know when selecting a life partner: "Are you a car owner?"
It's no surprise that many people have been outspoken in their distaste for the website, but still thousands of Canadians are signing up. Co-creator of Beautifulpeople.com Chris DeWolfe has said that the website gives people the "power to exclude." As Hodge has explained, "Exclusion is prevalent all through society. We have to exclude to serve the purpose of the community."
Is Darwin turning in his grave right now, or is this exactly what the scientist dreamt of when he wrote of natural selection and the theory of evolution?
DarwinDating.com, another dating website, uses this theory as the basis for its existence. Not only does it provide a (distorted) explanation of natural selection for its users, but it also includes a pretty detailed list of traits that are banned. The website's motto:"Darwin Dating has been created to better the lives of attractive people and to encourage them to find other attractive people with whom they can breed [. . .] Our strict rules and natural selection process makes Darwin Dating the perfect medium for attractive people to find other people of their own kind."
Do you think Darwin would have labeled redheads with freckles and people with weird pubic hair as unsuitable breeders? According to this website, they are.
Now obviously everyone wants to be attracted to a potential partner, but for most people attraction goes beyond looks. Certainly most of us are more realistic in our expectations. I'm guessing being considered adorable doesn't cut it for these exclusive communities. Hodge told MTV Canada that Avril Lavigne would never make it onto their site, but in reality there are plenty of people who find Avril very cute.
I'm not going to pretend that society does not exclude others. Actually it can be argued that excluding people is perfectly "natural." It helps us to find the best possible mate.
In fact, "natural selection is the process by which heritable traits, that make it more likely for an organism to survive and successfully reproduce, become more common in a population over successive generations."
Traits like athleticism, an imperative aspect of survival of the fittest, may be found in abundance on these dating websites. Other traits like intelligence, however, can be even more crucial to our survival. Without these genes, how would so-called "geeky" scientists have developed all the medical wonders that keep many of us alive in the first place?
While the "uglies" and the "fatties" may be excluded from these online communities (their words not mine), those who choose not to sign up are holding the "power to exclude" as well. We are excluding those who are superficial, shallow, and ugly on the inside.
The way I see it, the exclusiveness of these so-called "coveted communities" only reduces the breeding pool to fewer people. This shallow pool makes it even more difficult for them to find, mate with, and pass along healthy genes. Finding a well-rounded person is extremely important for ensuring that a variety of great genes -- that go beyond looks -- are passed along to offspring.
If anything, these websites help us "average" people to sift through the shallowness of others and to avoid breeding with a partner who possesses the "superficial" gene.
Concept OK but not online
In general I don't find anything wrong with the concept of beautifulpeople.com, however I think the way that the idea has been executed has created a situation where you just have extremely superficial people who care about nothing but looks.