On BeautifulPeople.com, new users are allowed to upload one photo. Then members of the site vote on whether the person in the photo looks gorgeous enough to stay or gets the boot. Women vote on men, and men vote on women. If your photo doesn’t get enough votes in the first 48 hours, you’re kicked off.
“BeautifulPeople is based on a fundamental principle of human nature,” said Greg Hodge, the website’s US managing director. “We all initially at least want to be with someone we find attractive... It might not be politically correct, but it’s certainly very honest.”
“If the online dating market was a nightclub, BeautifulPeople would be the VIP room,” he added.
Some people who were rejected from the site decided to get work done, and then returned to the site to upload their “after” photos in hopes they would be accepted.
One user named Tawnie Lynn said she was rejected the first time she tried to sign up, so she got a nose job. After going under the knife, Lynn said she uploaded another photo and was accepted.
“It did help me get on the site,” she said. “I wasn’t accepted before the nose job, so I think afterwards if I was accepted I’d blame it on the nose.”
Sal Vance, one of the BeautifulPeople.com mentors, said he spent $10,000 on his teeth before signing up.
“I learned to play the rules of the game. The rules of the game are, I was a buck-toothed kid. I got my teeth done,” Vance said.
“A lot of people want to get on the website,” he added. Man you’d be surprised... [I’ve seen a] face lift on a woman who honestly wasn’t ever 30 years old yet.”
For those who have gone to extremes to join the club, they claim the site is a motivator for people to live well and take care of themselves. But some experts have their doubts.
“The fact that a woman would go undergo plastic surgery ... to be deemed attractive on some website makes me very, very scared for what’s going on in our hearts and in our minds,” said sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman. “We’re becoming so focused on immediate gratification and initial impulse decision and immediate reactions to the external that we are going to get lost somewhere along the way.”
BeautifulPeople.com launched in Denmark in 2003, and has since gone global with 800,000 members. The acceptance rate hovers just under 30 percent. Seven million people, and counting, have been rejected from the site since its inception.
“If a woman is not necessarily beautiful, not in the classical sense, if she looks kind of sexy or showing a bit of skin, she’s got a good chance of getting in,” Hodge said. “Men are dogs. Women look at the overall picture, ‘does this guy look like he has money?’”
And once you’re in, you’re still not safe. Profiles are reviewed periodically.
“We have removed numerous people over the years for letting themselves go,” Hodge said.
While it all seems like a backwards way for “beautiful people” to stick together, Hodge said the rejection model actually hurts profits.
“What bothers me is that so few people get in,” he said. “From a business perspective when people get turned away, it’s bye, bye dollar signs, isn’t it, at the end of the day.”