Dating website weeds out beauty from the beast

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A new online dating service is attempting to weed out the wonderful from the weirdos by allowing only beautiful people to join up.

Hopeful applicants upload a photo and add a few details about themselves - including income bracket - and existing members of the website vote on whether they can stay.

The website has come under fire for putting appearance above personality, but the founders of www.thebeautiful.co.nz say they are not superficial snobs.

Troy Andrews, one of the three founders of the website, said each applicant could include a profile so it was not purely photo-focused, and the website had unattractive members.

One member, Smith6, tried five times before being accepted - because of his perseverance and personality - despite a less-than-flattering photo, and he now had "quite a following with the girls".

Mr Andrews said the site was merely providing "a step-up in quality".

"It's not like everyone's supermodels on there. You have to be beautiful inside as well. Beauty is very subjective and we leave it up to the people to decide what they think is beautiful."

The site is upfront about its requirements - promotional material asks "are you beautiful enough?" and members are referred to as "the Beautiful" - but Mr Andrews, a 25-year old Auckland lawyer, said it was all a bit tongue-in-cheek. "It gets people's attention. It also turns things back on the people who have a problem with it, because they're the ones who are associating beauty with looks. We do think beauty is more than skin deep."

The site has about 200 members from almost 400 applications and has special ways of "validating" applicants suspected of palming off snaps of models as themselves.

"We have to keep the beautiful honest," says Mr Andrews.

The idea came about after a discussion between Mr Andrews and his friends and co-founders Derek Forbes and Tom Riddell, about why traditional dating websites were seen as being for "desperate" people, and how most contained too many "weirdos".

Rather than being driven by a desire to meet beautiful people, it was seen as a business opportunity to fill a gap in the match-making market.

They have also started holding get-togethers so people can meet each other.

Table for Six and "executive one-on-one dating concept" Intro-deuce owner Beth Wright said members were probably missing out on a lot of fantastic people if they remained so exclusive. "I believe most people these days are aware beauty's not going to get you through the hard times in a relationship."

Psychologist Sara Chatwin said she could not see any harm in the service - everyone had a choice of whether to buy into it.

However, she was concerned some people might not be able to deal with rejection. "There could be some danger. If you put yourself out there, be warned - you could get really hurt."

By Amanda Spratt
The New Zealand Herald