When looking for love online, the options are endless. That's why dating sites like OKCupid let you set up search criteria, such as age and location, to whittle down your best matches. But now the popular free site with more than 3 million users has come up with a new way to single out sweethearts: For a fee, you can filter out certain body types.
The new service is part of the “A-List” premium package that initially launched in 2009 and originally only let people browse—and stalk—anonymously. Now for $4.95 to $9.95 a month, for a year and six-month memberships respectively, members can make people who don't measure up to their standards invisible. When users create a profile, they have to select one of 10 body type choices, including “skinny,” “fit,” “little extra,” “full-figured,” and “overweight.” Since this is self-chosen, users can theoretically check "fit" and upload photos of themselves shirtless with a beer belly (it's unclear if the site polices this).
Included in the offer, members will be able to search by hotness too. While any user can rate another via the 5-star rating system, only paying customers will be able to see the final rankings and who were voted the best looking.
“If you were at a bar deciding who you wanted to talk to, physical appearance is something you would take into account,” OkCupid co-founder Sam Yagan told TheWeek.com to explain why they created the advanced search tool to trim the fat and the ugly.
While being picky is a crucial part of the dating game, being shallow and discriminatory doesn't have to be. And skewing the search to go for the most conventionally beautiful people in the virtual room isn't going to do anyone any favors. Gorgeous folks are probably already inundated with “winks” and messages, so unless you fit their personal criteria, you can expect to be ignored, which is incredibly discouraging. What's worse is that average-looking users who are babes in their own right (the likely majority of users on the site) are now more likely to get overlooked. That's just not okay, Cupid.
"It's true that when we're in public, we'll approach a person who is most attractive to us. But the key words here are 'to us.' What attracts one person doesn't attract another," says L.A.-based sex expert Durvasula Ramani, Ph.D. "This new option has the potential to do more harm than good. You might accidently dismiss the love of your life."
Would you pay to play this new dating game? Speak your mind in the comments below or tweet us @Shape_Magazine.