Digital dieting

Now you can make all your physical self-loathing digitally manifest in just seconds!

Published September 19, 2006 6:21PM (EDT)

Oh. My. God.

Thanks -- I guess -- to both Feministing and Bitch Ph.D. for leading us to today's top grotesquerie. It's a Hewlett-Packard (insert spying joke here) digital camera that offers a special "artistic effect" called "slimming," which basically takes a digital image and sort of smushes it, creating a narrowing effect. That's right. Now body dysmorphia isn't just in your head! You can actually execute your self-distortion in your own photos -- just like magazine art directors do to the models who give us our own warped senses of what the female body is supposed to look like to begin with! Yay!

The best part about the Hewlett-Packard advertisement is, of course, the women they've decided require a digital diet. Two models are shown. Unsurprisingly, both are beautiful and utterly healthy looking. But not beautiful enough. Nosirree. They need to be slimmed! And so the ad quickly sucks off a few extra pounds, leaving the women looking only infinitessimally changed. But those teensy differences make a big difference. Perfection -- as evidenced by outward indication of food deprivation and steely self-discipline -- is a must when it comes to female body image. Thank God there's now a camera that allows us to punish ourselves, correct our "faults" -- especially those hard-to-fix imaginary ones! -- and alter embarrassingly lifelike images of ourselves so that no one can see what we actually look like.

Thank you, Hewlett-Packard.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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