21 September 2006

HP's "Slimming" Bug -- or is that Feature?

I have just learned from a friend that HP has a “Slimming” feature in its new camera software. HP misguidedly has chosen healthy, fit women models for all the before pictures in their sample images, and shows each of these women shrunken down to Teri Hatcher proportions in the after images.

Is this all for the purpose of looking good in our match.com profiles? Or are we trying to experience seeing what our reflections would look like after losing more weight (or gaining it, in some cases) to motivate ourselves to try to do that? And it all begs the question: Do all of us healthy women really need to look like Twiggy or Kate Moss?

We've been coming up with all the other options you’d have to offer as well to legitimize adding just a the Slimming option. You’d really need a way to choose any body type, different proportions (maybe even with a fancy algorithm for adapting the shape and clothing and hair to different ages), add curving and straightening and "funhouse mirror," (where the mirror would let you adjust the shape of the curves however you like), or "weakening," as a software designer friend suggested, in which you make Arnold Schwartzenegger look like the 90-pound weakling at the beach who gets sand kicked in his face.

You’d also need to be able to reshape hair and even clothing style by decade. Hippie and Hawk, Jackie O, Joni Mitchell, Joan Jett, Joan Armatrading, Norah Jones, and so on.

Here's the letter my friend wrote to HP and copied to her friends. Forward it along if you are inspired!


Today I found out about a new feature of HP cameras: "Slimming". I am so appalled I am speechless. But never wordless! (thank goodness for keyboards) I hope you will forgive my mass email, but I'm making good on my promise to HP :-)

You can see for yourself here: http://www.hp.com/united-states/consumer/digital_photography/tours/slimming/index_f.html

I have written the CEO of HP ( http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/execteam/email/hurd/index.html) as well as provided feedback to the product team (I think, http://wwemail.support.hp.com/fd2/EmailForm?countrycode=us&langcode=en&sni=fd2-webfeedback2-ho

Here is what I said:

"Our culture has created enough body image issues for women without this offensive, sexist "feature". Perhaps you should review the Eating Disorder statistics to understand the far-reaching consequences of your "improvement": http://www.state.sc.us/dmh/anorexia/statistics.htm

As if the notion that photo subjects should "trim off pounds" wasn't bad enough, you seemed to have used only young, attractive, healthy women who have no need to be "slimmed". How many subjects of your software will become statistics (anorexia and bulimia are life-threatening diseases!)?

I have been a long-time customer of HP: virtually every printer I have ever owned was from HP; I never bother to shop - I always picked HP.

However, based on this product, I resolve to never purchase anything from HP ever again. Further, I plan to share this perspective with every person I know, so they can also make an informed decision about HP's ethics, exploitation of women, and blatant disregard for women's health."

I encourage you to let HP know how you feel about this new technology.


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