A few days ago I saw a "news" story about a website called BeautifulPeople.com. It's a dating site for people who are young and conventionally attractive, and you have to be approved by the site's members before you can join. It seems that just after christmas, they voted 5000 people off the island because they'd gained too much weight over the holidays. The site's owner made some less-than-tasteful comments as part of publicity surrounding the process.
I rolled my eyes when I saw the story, then I sort of shrugged it off. First, people have the right to date whoever they want, and if a site wants to cater to a specific niche then more power to them. Plus, the whole thing reeked of publicity stunt to me, especially since this is the first time I'd heard of the site.
But that's not what I'm writing about.
Lynne Murray wrote this essay about it in the Body Impolitic blog. I was looking forward to hearing what she had to say about it, but I found myself getting angrier and angrier as I read her writing.
Ms. Murray is very critical of the site's members. In her essay, she calls them "vicious, judgmental, arrogant, and self-centered". She says that they're "the kind of person guaranteed to make you miserable", and calls them "beautiful bozos." She says that the members of the site are "there to criticize you, maybe to compete with you, or maybe just out of sheer bitchery, they get you kicked out."
What really got my knickers in a knot was the way Ms. Murray sneered at the members of the site, and judged them based solely on their dating preferences. Are they bozos? I'm sure some of them are and some of them aren't-- that's true of any group. However, I can't conclude from someone's physical preferences in dating that they're a bozo, vicious, judgmental, or guaranteed to make their partner unhappy. Ms. Murray seems to have no problem jumping to those conclusions, though, based on little more than their looks, their physical preferences, and their membership in an online dating site.
To quote Ms. Murray again, "Am I the only person who sees the same hatred, just expressed in a slightly different way?"
It's clear that different people have different dating preferences. There are people who only date people of one particular race, people who like muscular bodies, people who like round bodies, people who only date others with high IQs, people who only date others with certain sexual preferences, people who only date those with money, and yes... people who only date those who are conventionally attractive. De gustibus non disputatum est, and more power to them.
Much to my amusement, Ms. Murray talks of searching conventional dating sites looking for BBW admirers. It's not at all clear to me why it's OK for someone to have a preference for plus-sized women, but not for thinner ones. Or perhaps those BBW admirers are bozos as well, since they were interested in the superficial physical characteristic of her body size?
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