Toby Young Toby Young

What happened when I tried to join the internet’s ‘beautiful people’

<font size="2"> Toby Young suffers from Status Anxiety</font>

As a columnist, I’m often asked whether I deliberately place myself in embarrassing situations for the purpose of furnishing myself with comic material. The answer, regrettably, is no. My life is humiliating enough without me having to court embarrassment. However, when I read that a dating site called beautifulpeople.com had expelled over 5,000 members for letting themselves go over the festive period I felt compelled to submit a membership application. This involves uploading a photograph of yourself and then waiting for existing members to decide whether you’re attractive enough to join their exclusive ranks. They have a choice of four responses: ‘Yes, definitely’, ‘Hmm yes, OK’, ‘Hmm no, not really’ and ‘NO definitely NOT’.

Obviously, the point of doing this was in the hope of being rejected so I could get a ‘funny’ column out of it. But when the time came to upload a photo, vanity got the better of me. Instead of choosing a realistic likeness, I opted for a picture taken several decades ago when I still had a full head of hair. I realised, as I filled out the online application form, that the opinion of these attractive singletons actually mattered to me.

‘It’s funny,’ I said to Caroline later that day. ‘I was absolutely confident when I started out that I wouldn’t be accepted, but then I went and submitted the most attractive picture of me I could find.’

‘I shouldn’t worry,’ she said.

According to Robert Hintze, the founder of beautifulpeople.com, ‘vigilant’ members had insisted on the post-Christmas cull. ‘As a business, we mourn the loss of any member,’ he said. ‘But the fact remains that our members demand the high standard of beauty be upheld.’ The whole process was clearly a publicity stunt. Members aren’t required to resubmit pictures of themselves on 1 January, so the site’s managers had no way of knowing who’d overindulged.

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