A dating site that markets itself as an elite community for beautiful people with a "strict ban on ugly people" has axed about 5,000 members for packing on the pounds during the holiday season.
The international site BeautifulPeople.com threw out members after they posted photos "revealing that they have let themselves go," according to a company statement.
"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," said Robert Hintze, founder of BeautifulPeople.com. "Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model and the very concept for which BeautifulPeople.com was founded."
The site describes itself as an "elite online club, where every member works the door" -- that is, users can join only after enough members vote them "beautiful" during the 48 hours after their profile is uploaded.
And apparently, enough beautiful people were angry that some members had enjoyed a bit too many treats during the holiday season.
So BeautifulPeople.com sent those flagged members e-mails, according to the company statement, telling them they could register again for the site when the extra pudge was gone.
"We responded to complaints by moving the newly chubby members back to the rating stage. This is the same as having them re-apply," Greg Hodge, managing director of BeautifulPeople.com, said in a statement.
The company said it "expelled" 1,520 users from the U.S., 832 from the U.K., 533 from Canada, 510 from Poland, 425 from Germany, 402 from Italy, 323 from France, 220 from Denmark, 176 from Turkey and 88 people from Russia. In the e-mail, it gave users suggestions for boot camps and workout facilities to get themselves back in shape.
Some gave the site a shot again, hoping fellow users might not see them as the "fatties" others had.
"Their re-applications were reviewed by existing members, and only a few hundred were voted back in. Over 5,000 were rejected," Hodge added.
Hodge admits, and has admitted from the time his company started, that his site may not be fair, but people want to date someone they are attracted to.
"Is it elitist? Yes, it is, because our members want it to be," Hodge said when the company started out in 2005. "Is it lookist? Yes, it is, because our members want it to be. Is it PC? No, it's not, but it's honest."
And on this site, beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder; only one in five applicants is normally accepted, a company statement said.
Maintaining those standards is what the site is about, Hodge said, and that's why people were expelled.
"Every year we see that some of our members from Western cultures eat and drink to excess over the holidays, and clearly their looks suffer," he said in a statement. "The U.S.A. has been grossly over-indulging since Thanksgiving. It's no wonder that so many members have been expelled from the network. We hope they will be back after shedding the festive pounds."