Did anyone see this article, from the Business section of the New York Times, about makeover services for online personal ads? Apparently there are companies out there like Profilehelper.com and E-Cyrano.com that will help you perfect your Match.com personal -- for a fee, of course.
I'd been under the mistaken impression that profile grooming stopped sometime after the college admission process (with slight relapses when you need your résumé edited). It didn't occur to me that something as, well, personal as a personal ad would be a prime target for a professional makeover. But how wrong I was.
Glancing through the E-Cyrano site gives a strange glimpse into the many ways you can pay other people to create an honest, revealing portrait of your inner self. For example, for $129 E-Cyrano will write two essays for you, based on a detailed questionnaire and a 30-minute phone conversation, that "capture your essence." (Their titles, "About Me" and "The One I'm Looking For," support E-Cyrano's assertion that they can be used on any dating Web site -- what versatility!)
But if filling out a questionnaire sounds like too much work, you can also sign up for the platinum package and have E-Cyrano create your profile from scratch, for a $199 fee. In this package, you have an hourlong phone conversation with a dating consultant, who then writes your entire profile for you. (It's unclear if they'll also go on your dates for you -- but wouldn't that be a timesaver?)
And these editing services aren't all that's offered -- you can also have your photo touched up, or even have professional head shots done.
Now, I'm all for editing -- and the idea of someone out there screening profiles for incorrect punctuation brings joy to my dorky heart -- but isn't it weird that you'd hire someone to groom your romantic life? I used to edit application essays for international students and always wondered what admissions committees must think when they read through an application packet that's clearly been written by a nonnative speaker, only to stumble upon an essay in fluent English. Wouldn't they be tempted to discard it, since it would be clear that it'd been written by someone else? Likewise, if you find a profile with a professional photo and a polished, quirky self-description that practically begs for follow-up questions, wouldn't you become a little suspicious? I'd hate to go on a date only to realize that the person I thought I was attracted to was actually sitting in an office in Los Angeles, holding 30-minute phone conversations with other clients about what they really mean when they say that they're "laid-back."
It does prompt a question about those consultants, though: What, exactly, are their profiles like?