By Georgina Pattinson
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but a new website has taken networking to Darwinian extremes by banning ugly people.
Georgina put herself up for peer approval with this picture
Beautifulpeople.net is an online club which admits only the most beautiful people - through a vicious selection process.
Applicants enter a profile and picture, which sit on the site for 72 hours. Fully signed up members - opposite sex only - are then invited to vote on the applicants' attractiveness.
Most people don't make it any further. Since launching in April, the UK site has been contacted by 30,000 hopefuls. Only one in 15 have got through. Given the site is a thinly veiled singles club, this is dating eugenics.
"Being accepted on to the site is the beauty equivalent of entering in to Mensa," claims Greg Hodge, the marketing director. But he rejects suggestions that he is promoting an unrealistic view of beauty. Yes, it's elitist - but that's what people want, he says. And every avenue in life discriminates against some in favour of others.
ARE YOU BEAUTIFUL ENOUGH?
Like any other network agency, it charges a fee
Nearly 30,000 applicants have tried to become a beautiful person
The swingometer (above) indicates your approval rating
Rejected applicants are told to try again
Applicants must be 18 or over
"All we do is give an accurate representation of what society's ideal of beauty is. You are voted in by your own peers."
He cheerfully admits the site is not politically correct but points out that apart from dating opportunities, the chatrooms are filled with people discussing Iraq and Tony Blair.
Putting yourself forward for, ahem, approval, can be a rollercoaster ride of strident highs and confidence-sapping lows, as I found out.
Once I have submitted my profile (including the picture and personal details such as weight), I nervously wait to be judged. Members can vote enthusiastically ("Yes! Certainly!"), cautiously ("Hmm, Yes, ok") and brutally ("No! Not at all!").
A swingometer reflects the prevailing opinion, from green (subtext: drop dead gorgeous) to red (subtext: have you no shame, Quasimodo?)
2 DAYS 10 HOURS 34 MINUTES TO GO
I check my profile for the first time - and while some have voted "Yes! Certainly!" and some have voted "Hmm, Yes, ok" there are a worrying number who've pressed the "No! Not at all!" button.
However, I do also have a message from one guy who voted for me. Checking out some of the other applicants, I notice I've got off lightly. It's easy to be mean anonymously.
1100 TUESDAY: 2 DAYS 9 HOURS 5 MINUTES TO GO
It's addictive. Another nice e-mail and possibly some new votes but I can't work out if my rating has slipped or not. At least I'm still being voted in.
2 DAYS 7 HOURS 17 MINUTES TO GO
Positive votes have dropped off. The counter is hovering desperately close to the red. But I'm not doing as badly as one girl who has signed on as "how-cute-is-me". The resounding answer is "not at all" and she's still got two days to go.
1517 TUESDAY: 2 DAYS 4 HOURS 52 MINUTES TO GO
Still in the green zone. The enthusiastic responses and the lukewarm responses are level. I'm wondering whether to start sending messages to people begging them to vote for me. Or should I change my profile - or does anyone ever read them? Am I becoming obsessed?
1829 TUESDAY: 2 DAYS 1 HOUR 38 MINUTES TO GO
I'm still in the running but no-one is particularly enthused. I'll start a message campaign tomorrow.
0941 WEDNESDAY: 1 DAY 10 HOURS 37 MINUTES TO GO
Log on to see two messages. One has some sage advice ("not the best to start e-mailing others because sometimes they think you try to hard and vote you red"). Many of my fellow applicants are not doing well although a Daryl Hannah lookalike is home and dry. I pluck up courage to send a message to one online member who says he has "hidden depths". He doesn't reply.
1157 WEDNESDAY: 1 DAY 8 HOURS 11 MINUTES TO GO
Send a speculative message to someone new. I'm trying to drum up support - my vote has flatlined.
1434 WEDNESDAY: 1 DAY 5 HOURS 35 MINUTES TO GO
Members seem pretty ambivalent about me: the "Hmm, Yes, ok" vote is highest. But at least I'm still being voted in. There are still plenty who think "no way!" No new e-mails - my campaign hasn't taken off.
1712 WEDNESDAY: 1 DAY 2 HOURS 52 MINUTES TO GO
I'm told I have another message - but disappointingly it's from another applicant who can't vote for me. I do message another member in the hope of drumming up interest - my profile hasn't moved for a while and I'm worryingly close to being voted off.
I notice the profile of a girl who is voted off - she's an attractive doctor with a masters degree. This is ridiculous. But then I notice my rating has gone up again and I forget generous thoughts. Survival of the fittest is what matters.
0852 THURSDAY: 11 HOURS 17 MINUTES TO GO
Holding steady. No new messages.
0929 THURSDAY: 10 HOURS 36 MINUTES TO GO
Another e-mail from a fellow applicant. We swap tips.
1629 THURSDAY: 3 HOURS 41 MINUTES TO GO
No messages. Voting holding steady.
2019 THURSDAY: VOTING OVER
It may be un-PC, elitist, unfair, shallow and cruel, but I don't care. I'm a beautiful person. I'm in.