Members of the global dating site BeautifulPeople.com might think twice in the future before indulging in devouring sugary, fatty holiday spreads, after the site's administrators kicked off more than 5,000 members for appearing too heavy in post-holiday photos.
The online dating site, which launched in Denmark in 2002 before going global in 2009, announced this week that it expelled thousands of "fatties" in an effort to maintain its status as "the sexiest Web site in the world."
"Five thousand members have been let go," said Miki Haines, a spokeswoman for the site, which asks on its home page, "Do you want to guarantee your dates will always be beautiful?"
"Basically they all posted photographs on the site between November and the New Year, and these photographs were a little less flattering than their previous photos," said Haines.
While membership on BeautifulPeople.com is free, Haines said that people who wish to join must upload photographs of themselves and allow other members to rate them.
Members rating others can click options such as "Yes, definitely" or "NO definitely NOT" when deciding whether a hopeful should be accepted to the site. Prospective members with too many low scores on their photos are denied admission to the site.
In a written statement, the site's founder Robert Hinze wrote, "As a business, we mourn the loss of any member, but the fact remains that our members demand the high standard of beauty be upheld. Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model and the very concept for which BeautifulPeople.com was founded."
Members of advocacy groups supporting overweight people say that the site is "just wrong" and adds to the stigma against fat people.
"I don't think [this site] is appropriate, and I think that people need to be looked at for more than just what's on the outside," said James Zervios, the director of communications for the Obesity Action Coalition.
Of the 5,000 who were expelled from the site, the majority came from the U.S., which saw 1,520 members let go, followed by the U.K. with 832 booted members, and Canada with 533.
"We tend to lose people from countries where it's cold over Christmas and where it's a big part of their culture to eat and drink a lot over the holidays," said Haines. "So countries with hotter climates still maintain the same standards that they joined with because they're outdoors more and active."
"I think that some cultures just lend themselves to overindulging, and any weight gained by binge eating or drinking can be unattractive," said Haines.
One of the site's members, London-based Catherine Cooke, says she doesn't mind the harsh restrictions on who can and cannot be a member.
After all, it's beautiful people, she says, and not fat people, who she wants to date.
"The thing is, you're looking for beautiful people if you're on the site to start with, and if you're not [beautiful], well, there should be some kind of monitoring," said Cooke, 23.
Members of the "fat acceptance movement," a grassroots effort to eliminate much of the stigma against people who are overweight, say BeautifulPeople.com is only reasserting what they say is a flawed assumption that looks are all that matters when it comes to finding true love.