By Tanya Silverman
Photo courtesy of Eddi Haskell
“To be part of Beautiful People, you have to be voted in by the existing members of the opposite sex, based on whether or not they find you attractive,” says Greg Hodge, the managing director of the exclusive dating network. Beautiful People, which began in Denmark in 2002 as a courting arena for attractive people, has since spread globally and now includes over 750,000 members.
“Essentially, we’re democratized beauty: if you get a majority of positive votes, you’re accepted,” Hodge explains the screening process, which usually only approves one person out of eight. “Otherwise, you’re shown the door.”
The policy of prospective members being evaluated by the opposite sex was instituted because it was found that existing members were competitive with their peers of the same sex, and had tried to vote them out. By pursuing this opposite-sex rule, Hodge has noticed some “poignant differences” in the patterns of how men and women vote.
“It’s actually harder to be accepted to Beautiful People as a man than as a woman because women are tougher beauty critics. Men will vote women in solely on how they look, whereas the women will look at the bigger overall picture,” he says.
From his observations, he notes that women factor in other judgments like whether the man looks “articulate” and “has money.” The differences in gender standards have also caused the Beautiful People community to hold a female majority.
In addition to such sociological observations made by gender surveying, the screening process employed by Beautiful People has also given insight into how different cultures perceive beauty. For instance, in the UK, females typically prefer males to be more “rough around the edges,” with attributes like a “5 o’clock shadow, jeans, and T-shirt.” This taste contrasts with American women, who like a more “clean cut” man who is “shaved” with a “suit and tie.”
As for what men like in different countries, Hodge has determined that in Japan men are interested in “cutesy,” “innocent-looking” women, whereas in America, men like “their women to be a little more powerful” and “racey.”
Even once contestants pass this rigid screening process and become accepted into the Beautiful People community, suspicions may arise that members are not actually as attractive as they present themselves on the internet.
If such a situation arises, members can contact the administrators to investigate if a suspected member is actually a “beautiful person.”
“We run a sincerity check, which asks the member questions to put various pictures up to know they haven’t been doctored,” says Hodge. “We also have an authenticity app where users on the site can chat live with an administrator of beautiful people and then share it online to make sure they look as they have represented themselves.”’
Following this sincerity check, the suspected homely member will receive a stamp of approval to designate that he or she has been authenticated.
Apart from dating and relationships, Beautiful People has expanded into being an online job recruitment network. According to Hodge, the idea for this came about as a result of representatives from “production companies,” “talent scouts” and “model agencies” having contacted Beautiful People in search for talent to employ. Since it officially launched in early June, Hodge says that the job-networking wing has expanded beyond the entertainment industry, and into spheres like “banking,” “finance,” and “real estate.”
But for whatever possible career opportunities this phenomenon might entail, Beautiful People is “first and foremost a dating site.”
In all of its endeavors, Hodge considers this dating resource a success, as it has led to “thousands of beautiful marriages,” not to mention the consequential intercourse that births “thousands of beautiful babies.” Though Beautiful People is subjective by nature, other dating sites can be controversial in other ways, such as excluding people for things like skin color or religion.
Hodge speaks metaphorically when comparing his dating site to more inclusive others, saying, “We’re more like an exotic game reserve, rather than a jungle.” He adds, “If online dating were a nightclub, Beautiful People would be the VIP room.”
For whatever dilemma this site has started, whether people are upset at being rejected, or they are morally opposed to a principle of judging others based on looks, Greg Hodge backs its principles to be in tune with fundamental standards of breeding:
“We want to be with someone we’re attracted to,” says Hodge. “It’s human nature.”