Bitch tipster alert! According to a trusted source (one of our sharpy-sharp readers), OkCupid, the popular (and free) online dating site, has a semi-secret policy that favors those who have been deemed the most attractive. Say what!?
Not OK, Cupid.
Our informant forwarded along an email s/he received from OkCupid, which I am re-posting here in full:
We are very pleased to report that you are in the top half of OkCupid's most attractive users. The scales recently tipped in your favor, and we thought you'd like to know.
How can we say this with confidence? We've tracked click-thrus on your photo and analyzed other people's reactions to you in QuickMatch and Quiver.
Your new elite status comes with one important privilege: You will now see more attractive people in your match results.
This new status won't affect your actual match percentages, which are still based purely on your answers and desired match's answers. But the people we recommend will be more attractive. Also! You'll be shown to more attractive people in their match results.
Suddenly, the world is your oyster. Login now and reap the rewards. And, no, we didn't just send this email to everyone on OkCupid. Go ask an ugly friend and see.
So basically, the users who get the best ratings from other users are granted admission into a special stable of hot people, while those who haven't rated as well are doomed to mill around outside, hoping for a date with whoever's willing to put up with their grotesque physical appearance. This is a problem on several levels.
1. The policy discriminates against those deemed less attractive for whatever reason (bad photo, profile misspelling, etc.). Those in the dreaded bottom 50% presumably do not have access to potential matches in the top 50%, even if they match up in other areas beyond the physical (which, let's remember, is rated based solely on online profile data). OkCupid is segregating the groups, which seems counter-productive to, you know, DATING.
2. The policy reinforces the notion that hot people deserve love and happiness and "ugly" people should just get used to being alone. For evidence of this, just check out some of the offensive language in that email! For those who have been granted "attractive" status, "Suddenly, the world is your oyster." What the hell kind of world were they in before? Oh, I know, the one where ugly people are barred from seeing pretty people.
3. The policy makes dating decisions on the users' behalf without considering personal preferences. Sure, I learned in my Sociology 101 class that people typically end up partnering with other similarly-attractive people; I'd bet many of you have read the same. However, we've all got different preferences when it comes to physical attractiveness, and just because someone hasn't gotten as many click-thrus as someone else doesn't mean that users won't find that person attractive. It's patronizing to think that OkCupid would decide who's hot and who's not, especially when hotness is completely subjective.
4. The policy is kept secret (unless you're attractive!). When you sign up for an OkCupid account, you are not tipped off to this segregating policy in any way, shape, or form. Here is what they DO tell people about their matching process:
OkCupid is the fastest growing FREE online dating site. Our advanced matching system is based on you, and what you find important. Tell us about yourself and we'll help you find your perfect match. With over a million quality singles from all around the world, you can make a new friend or set up a date—all for free!
Note the absence of any looks-related criteria. Maybe they should change that line where they say "Our advanced matching system is based on you" to "Our advanced matching system is based on how hot we think you are."
Assuming that this is all true (and we trust our tipsters around here), this policy is a bunch of discriminatory, attractiveness-norm-reinforcing, bullshit. Not to mention the fact that it just doesn't make sense. Why limit the number of potential matches people can get? Because pretty people can't have their pretty eyes scarred by regular people? No thanks. Does anyone remember that episode of Seinfeld where George uses a photograph of a beautiful woman to get into that secret club full of models? Yeah, this is like that, except not as funny.
I have to admit, this is especially irritating to me because OkCupid markets itself as being sort of ironic and progressive and "cooler" than other online dating sites. If they're so ironic and cool and alternative, why are they falling prey to the same arbitrary attractiveness standards as your local meat market-y douchebar?
So help me out here, folks. Is this for real? If you use OkCupid, have you heard of this policy? What do you think of it?