It's not uncommon for dating sites to sell themselves on the basis of some (usually spurious) claim about the overwhelming attractiveness of its users.
One such site, DarwinDating.com, introduces its wares with the charming cry, "Sick of dating websites filled with ugly, unattractive, desperate fatsos? We are", and claims to use Charles Darwin's concept of natural selection to thin down its membership. (They also have a photo of the scientist in their "About" section, with the caption, "Charles Darwin was a genius, but unfortunately very ugly. It is ironic that he wouldn't be able to join DarwinDating!" Yes, just about the textbook definition of ironic!)
There are plenty of others, but the granddaddy of them all is BeautifulPeople.com, self-appointed "first of its kind", where "applicants are required to be voted in by existing members of the opposite sex. Members rate new applicants over a 48-hour period based on whether or not they find the applicant "beautiful". Should applicants secure enough positive votes from members, they will be granted membership to the "BeautifulPeople community".
(I'm starting my own dating site, SoylentGreenIsPeople.com for the rest of us human bilge who are too hideous to even bother attempting to gain membership. PhysicallySickeningButTotallyUpForIt.com will be the free "no strings attached" sister site.)
Well, in brilliant news for humanity, BeautifulPeople is now launching a recruitment service: yes, if you'd always struggled with the fact that the temps in your office looked like their faces had caught on fire and someone had put it out with a shovel, finally, you can hire the model-like workers of your dreams.
In a statement sent to Mashable, BeautifulPeople chief executive Greg Hodge said: "An honest employer will tell you that it pays to hire good-looking staff. Attractive people tend to make a better first impression on clients, win more business and earn more."
(I'm sure Hodge has tinkered with his site's algorithms to ensure he, too, is a certified BeautifulPerson, but if the tables were turned I certainly wouldn't vote Hodge's lantern jaw and thousand-yard stare through to the inner sanctum. How d'ya like them apples, Greggles? That's the difference between attraction and "attractiveness algorithms".)
In the context of online dating, ranking people's beauty is of course doomed to fail because everyone has different tastes when it comes to what they find attractive. In the case of employment, however, Hodge unfortunately has a point. As I noted (in a piece about the value of ugliness, something ironic enough for even DarwinDating's copywriter), research suggests that people assessed as ugly earn 10 to 15 per cent less than their more attractive counterparts.
That research is reflected in an Australian study, which found that the salary hike for lookers is just over one and a half times what their less aesthetically fortunate co-workers can expect: "The financial return for physical attractiveness finds it is worth an astounding NZ$38,500 in annual salary, with men of above-average looks typically commanding $98,000 compared with $59,500 for men with below-average looks."
Even more ironically (hi, DarwinDating!), however, the study found that it doesn't necessarily work the same way for women. On the topic of political candidates' attractiveness, co-author Dr Andrew Leigh said, "Good looks helped male candidates more than they helped women. It could be that attractive women come up against the stereotype that they can't be both attractive and intelligent. There's no such thing as the dumb-blonde syndrome for men."
(The profoundly depressing icing on the cake was that Leigh and his co-author Jeff Borland found that looks were now more important - compared to equivalent studies in 2000 and 1984 - for women when it came to both prospective employers and prospective husbands.)
Where this all starts to unravel is when you look at BeautifulPeople's recruitment site's opening line: "With unemployment at record levels in North America, the UK and Europe, BeautifulPeople has launched a jobs listing service exclusively for members of BeautifulPeople."
Surely if all these beautiful people are earning mega-bucks thanks solely to their spectacular faces, they don't need to worry about unemployment? If the great unemployed is made up predominantly of the mutants who can't make it onto BeautifulPeople, then they're just being screwed again.
In the end, the joke's on anyone who willingly signs up for this dreck: not just because they'll end up working for a deeply superficial employer who will probably sack them if they gain weight or have a breakout, but because the rest of us plebs can sleep well at night, safe in the knowledge that we've been employed because of our skills and talents, not our facades. Congratulations on your face, BeautifulPeople, hope nothing bad happens to it.
- Daily Life
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