My Other, My Selfy
No this isn’t a tribute to Nancy Friday’s best seller, My Mother Myself, although at the time that book came out it was a ground breaking read for women everywhere! This is about a disturbing new app that is now available on Apple that I would like to call your attention to and perhaps convince you to join me in letting the developer know why this is not such an app-ealing idea.
The new app is advertised as SkinneePix and I am disappointed to report the developer goes by the name, PrettySmartWomen LLC. It would be my hope that any “pretty smart women” would be fine having their selfy look like they look, but clearly my opinion is in the minority. Here is how the app is advertised,
“SkinneePix helps you edit your Selfies to look 5, 10 or 15 lbs. skinnier in two quick clicks on your iPhone. It’s easy. It’s simple. It’s fun. Share them with your friends immediately.SkinneePix makes your pictures look thinner. SkinneePix makes your photos look good and helps you feel good. It’s not complicated. No one needs to know. It’s our little secret.”
…until they see you in person!!!! Ok, I have read that description a zillion times and even now, as I was typing it into this blog post, I felt as angry as I did when I first read about it in a newsletter from The Child Mind Institute. The Child Mind Institute does a great deal of research and reporting on…wait for it…big leap here…minds of children…fancy that! But seriously, I don’t usually see much in their newsletters related to body image issues. So when I saw the headline, “An App for Skinnier Selfies” on April 8, 2014 by Rachel Ehmke, I clicked on it immediately. Ms Ehmke did a stellar job denouncing the app and connecting the dots of how an app like this only increases the difficulty of youth being comfortable in their bodies especially if it doesn’t conform to the narrow standard of beauty being touted by our culture. She also points out, that at least for now, the app only works on faces. It is not meant to be a full body photo liposuction deception device. But with bathing suit season just around the bend, my hunch is that’s not too far aweigh.
Selfies…I am a newcomer to the world of selfies. Before Christmas, 2013, I had never even heard the term. That changed when I joined Marilyn Wann, author of
Fatso? and creator of the Yay Scale, and other activists in San Francisco to protest a store window with a super sized Santa dressed up as Santa the Hutt warning
people to resist the urge to overindulge during the holiday season. Marilyn set up a Willendorf Selfy Station, and I quickly grasped that a selfie is when someone uses their smart phone, camera, or tablet to take a picture of themselves to document an important moment and then shares it via social media. I could see that there were many attitudes behind the act of taking a selfy ranging from playful to political, but in all cases, I assumed, the point behind it was documenting your participation in a real life event either alone or with others. Why then, would it be necessary to skinny down your selfy? Wouldn’t that make it a NOT my selfy? And they aren’t talking about a fun distortion opportunity…like a fun house mirror app
where you can make yourself look super skinny, super fat, super wiggly…they are talking about one thing and one thing only and that is….well…
“our little secret!”
On computer dating sites, people forage through their photos to choose a picture that will be enticing enough to set up first dates but realistic enough so that when you meet face to face the first thing your prospective new boy/girlfriend doesn’t find out about you is that you are a liar and a cheat.
Hence a certain amount of honesty is expected when you post a photo on your “i-date” profile page. So what is really the point of the Skinniepix? One of my fears is that it is a fantasy place holder…a future picture for girls who are convinced that if they just keep restricting their food long enough, they will, any day now, look like their Skinniepix avatar…and then they can go out in public looking as good as their photo. How can this be beneficial?
If you go to the Skinniepix site you will see that the photos of “users” are not young girls. I am making the prediction that if confronted with why the Skinniepix could be contraindicated for girls developing a positive self-image, the company would reply with reassurance that this app isn’t so young girls can hate themselves and strive to be thinner. But when you look at the demographics of people who take selfies, the largest group is girls aged 12-21. Ehmke nails it when she explains one of the down sides of this app,
“…Which is too bad because when everyone looks fifteen pounds lighter online—or feels like they should—it’s going to make it even harder for girls to feel good about who they really are.”
I know this is a free country. Free speech. Freedom of choice…just because Skinniepix are out there doesn’t mean someone has to buy it. But I also think that developers need to be shown some of the negative repercussions of their apps and take responsibility for how they may be detrimental. It may or may not change anything, but I felt a tad less homicidal after I wrote a letter. If I hear back from the developer, I will let you know! And if you decide to send a letter, please let us know via the comment section on this post. If you think I am over-reacting, I would love to hear from you as well. Here are ways to contact Pretty Smart Women.
Pretty Smart Women LLC
P.O. Box 13641
Phoenix, Arizona 85002
Til next time!
P.S. I want to thank all of you for coming to the book signing of The Calmanac at Laurel Bookstore! If you have a bookstore near you that you think would want a body positive book reading event, please let me know! Until then here are the indie bookstores where you can buy The Calmanac:
Laurel Bookstore- Oakland 4100 MacArthur Blvd., A Great Good Place for Books-Oakland 6120 La Salle Avenue, Skylight books- Los Angeles 1818 North Vermont Street, Books Inc- San Francisco 3515 California Street, Books Inc- Alameda 1344 Park Street, Books Inc.-Berkeley 1760 4th Street, Book Passage- Corte Madera 51 Tamal Vista, Lewins Books-Berkeley 2644 Ashby Ave.