Squishing your waist, smoothing your face

The Washington Post’s technology columnist recently wrote about a new brand of camera that – you guessed it! – automatically washes away wrinkles and slims the person in the picture. Here’s what he says about the process:

When they work, both can generate a photographic likeness that looks more attractive than the real you — a SuperYou that you can post on Facebook, MySpace, Match.com or any other site.

Nice, huh?

Well, either that or completely over-the-top, feeding into the negative body image, portrayal of a PretendYou. I’m inclined to suggest the latter.

On the slimming mode, you can even choose one of three levels of slimness you would like the camera to impose on this soon-to-be tortured image.

Here’s what the columnist says in the end about these cameras:

Neither of these cameras will make a regular schmo look like a supermodel. That still requires other forms of technological intervention — cosmetics, injections, implants.

But both can cater to people’s vanity at a low cost. That makes them a pretty smart business move for manufacturers. This kind of photo fakery — I’m sorry, embellishment — also fits in with the overall evolution of digital cameras. As easy as some photo-album programs are, people can still be intimidated by the prospect of cleaning up their shots on the computer; some would rather press a button on the camera to have that work done automatically.

So why not build cameras that know more of the editing tricks creative photographers have used on their computers? If a camera can make people look thinner and younger than their physical selves, why not have it also whiten their teeth, dye their hair and blot out their birthmarks?

You will, however, have to know when to stop upgrading your image. At some point, you’ll have to meet people who know you only as a younger, slimmer, blemish-free version of yourself. They could be shocked to see how scruffy you look in real life — unless they’ve been even more aggressive about polishing their own portraits.

Indeed. These camera features sound clunky and not-very-useful in the first place, kind of like a lot of words strung together into-a-meta-word. In the second place, they cater to a kind of image-oriented self-centeredness that I find appalling.

I understand if you want to look your absolute best in your pictures – who doesn’t? But that’s completely different from looking well…completely different in your pictures.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.