The Beautiful People
Do you remember being in the middle school cafeteria watching the captain of the cheerleading squad flip her blonde hair and giggle with the captain of the basketball team and three other cute cheerleaders around her, drinking in her every word? Do you remember the slight pang of jealousy that came over you as you viewed the entire scene from behind your coke bottle glasses? Well, take that slight pang of jealousy, replace it with nausea and triple it and that’s what you get when you log on to Beautifulpeople.com.
I first heard about the site yesterday after reading an article on TechCrunch that claimed that the site kicked off 5,000 users for gaining weight over the holidays. The article’s bold claim was just enough to piss me off–and make me want to check out Beautifulpeople.com for myself. And while I’d like to say that the claims made by the TechCrunch writer were outlandish, unfounded and untrue, I’m fairly sure it’s just the opposite.
As any good first-hand reporter would, I signed up for an account on Beautifulpeople.com; and my first indication that the site might be a bit “superficial” was the fact that I was required to upload a picture of myself–before I could even create a username. To put that requirement in perspective, sites like Facebook and Twitter do not message you at any point (before or after creating your account) about uploading a profile picture. If you choose to be a faceless user during your entire time on the site, they don’t care.
Not so with Beautifulpeople.com. Not only did I have to upload a photo of myself BEFORE signing up for an account, I must also wait for the approval of the Beautifulpeople community before I can become an official member. And I quote: “Beautifulpeople.com is an exclusively beautiful community created for the purpose of creating personal and professional relationships” (Let’s see, was the professional part where people were making cat calls back and forth to one another in the chat room or the slightly pornographic profile pictures that some people had posted?)
But I digress…back to quoting from the “About BP” section of the site: “To become a member, applicants are required to be voted in by existing members of the opposite sex.” (Do I sense a heterosexual bias?)
Continuing on: “Members rate all new applicants based on whether or not they find the applicant ‘beautiful’…The vote is fair and democratic. Beautifulpeople does not define beauty, it simply gives an accurate representation of what society’s ideal of beauty is.”
I find that last line to be the most disturbing–and not because they ended it with a helping verb. The fact that someone or something–much less a low-budget, poorly designed website–would have the audacity to say that they could ACCURATELY portray SOCIETY’S ideal of beauty is not just ludacris, but in my mind, morally reprehensible!
There’s a part of me that didn’t want to write this entry. I’m afraid that it might (unintentionally) drive more traffic to Beautifulpeople.com. Another part of me, however, felt the need to do my part to combat the lies that sites like this perpetuate.
The TRUTH is that there is no single standard of beauty. Yes, I will admit that there is such a thing as the “thin ideal” purported by mainstream media, but research shows that the majority of those who try to adhere to this ideal suffer from nutrient deficiencies or eating disorders (and take it from someone who knows, there’s nothing beautiful about bloodshot eyes, acne and hair loss brought on by bulimia and anorexia).
Beauty is defined in many ways, but not by a bunch of self-absorbed website users.
**Tune in Thursday for Part 2, where I will talk about some of the lies our culture tries to tell us about beauty and how we can combat them.