emember the time you swiped left on Tinder throughout the night, lusting for that one hot boy or girl who’d go down on one knee on your first meeting and give you the best oral sex of your life? Yeah stop swiping and start wiping because that ain’t gonna happen.
A couple of weeks ago, TechCrunch released a much-needed investigation report into the operations of Tinder. The report outlines the strokes of a secret version of Tinder called Tinder Select, which is an invitation-only platform for the attractive and the powerful. The app only invites CEOs, supermodels, and other physically attractive people who are part of the “1% clique”. This allows for an undiluted Tinder experience where there are only two rules: 1) Be attractive; and 2) Don’t be ugly.
As news of this exclusive pool of hot people trickled down the aam aadmi grapevine, the Streisand effect took over and the #DeleteUglyTinder movement was born. Suresh, a Tinder user in Raipur smashed his Android One on the window of his miniature BMW, after realising that his dream of shacking up with Priyanka Chopra had gone up in flames, just like the first season of Quantico. He dropped his shades and the attitude, and asked his mother to start her search on Jeevansaathi.com in earnest.
This information might have dawned on Suresh right now, but semi-ugly people like me have always known one thing: Hot people have shit easy. Not just on Tinder, but in life. And to top it all, they are utterly clueless about their privilege.
A lot of these choices and opinions are made subconsciously, but it ends up skewing things in favour of the pretty ’uns – whatever society deems as pretty in a particular era.
Before the beautiful people serenade us with think pieces on “The Tumultuousness of Being Pretty”, American model and actor Emily Ratajkowski of “Blurred Lines” fame shed light on this phenomenon in an interview. “I started to realise that I was being perceived differently,” she said. “It was confusing… it made [people] feel uncomfortable and I think there was a lot of guilt that they wanted to induce.” See what I mean?
“Being perceived differently,” for the record, is the most euphemistic phrasing that anyone has ever devised for being beautiful. What Emily and her friends can’t see is that this perception manifests itself in everyday encounters. You see this kind of discriminatory behaviour while trying to stop an auto, attempting to get a table at a restaurant, or asking an acquaintance for a favour. Hell, semi-uggos like me face it even when we look into the mirror while taking a late-night selfie.
But don’t trust my anecdotal evidence. The Harvard University paper “Why Beauty Matters”, published in 2005, attempted to understand this. It charted the rise of pretty peeps as almost prophetic, a completion of a process which begins in kindergarten and ends with more people at the funeral. Cuter kids, the paper said, get more attention in class than ugly ones because teachers inherently expect them to do well. This attention leads to better grades which builds confidence which means better public-speaking skills. Turn the tables, and ten- and 11-year-olds think beautiful teachers are kinder and college students think that better-looking professors are clearer and of “higher quality”.
A lot of these choices and opinions are made subconsciously, but it ends up skewing things in favour of the pretty ’uns – whatever society deems as pretty in a particular era. It used to be tall and slender like Sharon Stone in the ’90s; it’s voluptuous and caramel like Kim Kardashian in the 2010s. Only one thing remains unchanged. Life for attractive people remains a circle-jerk of success.
These days, our debates around equality are framed almost entirely around gender, racial, ethnic, and class discourse. So we seem to have forgotten this most primitive of qualities which differentiated human beings in the first place. Tinder Select – just like the politics in this country – is a reminder to people of their supposed place in the world.
Whatever crap The Big Bang Theory tried to sell you about the information age and the rise of the ugly-smarties, Suresh will always be less desired than Salman Khan. And you, my friend, will be the little match girl standing in the snow and looking inside the glass window of Tinder Select where you’ll never be allowed. I will meet you there.