Friday, May 04, 2007

Something to digest

Fat has been in my head all week - I guess you could call me a fathead. Have you ever had the feeling that there is some undercurrent of significance at play when you find yourself out of the blue reading about certain topics over and over without meaning to?

It first started when we came across articles and books detailing what is wrong with the way we eat in this country, in addition to, of course, what we eat, why we eat, and whatever other adverb you’d like to insert. It is generally accepted that the USA has a long way to go. We eat too much fast food, too much fake food, too many preservatives and chemicals, and our food travels thousands of unnecessary miles to our plates. While other countries take hours for a meal, we feel that we need to finish ours in minutes. While some countries are lacking food, ours is on the whole overfed yet malnourished (because of the quality of food we eat). We’ve become so big as individuals that when they renovated Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC, they tried to keep it authentic to how it looked in Lincoln's day, but had no choice but to widen all the seats to accommodate our modern bodies. That’s pretty sad, when you think of the expansive dresses they wore back then, isn’t it?

OK, so Ed and I started discussing our food supply and eating habits, and then, when I was perusing a gadget catalog, I noticed a T-shirt that said, “I’m not fat - I’m AMERICAN!”

The next thing we read was that in Formosa, the parents have historically instructed their children to eat until they were 85% full, and no more. That way, they avoided the obesity that has plagued the USA - where, as Ed chuckled, our parents were telling us to clean our plates because “children were starving in China.” Some of them weren’t starving - they were just being taught to eat sensibly, while we were getting fat, trying to finish off “their” food.

So where does this rambling lead? To an e-mail I received the other day. For some reason, this e-mail brought together every book, every magazine article, every piece of information about fat that has crossed my life this week. The e-mail was from Hewlett Packard, and they were announcing their latest camera - it makes you skinny. I’m not kidding. It comes with some kind of software in the camera itself called a “slimming” option. Here is their spiel:

They say cameras add ten pounds, but HP digital cameras can help reverse that effect. The slimming feature, available on select HP digital camera models, is a subtle effect that can instantly trim off pounds from the subjects in your photos!
With the slimming feature, anyone can appear more slender—instantly.
• The effect is subtle—subjects still look like themselves
• Can be adjusted for a more dramatic effect
• See a before and after version, then decide which to keep

Has it come to this? I know photo manipulation has been used in the ad industry for a long time - and I have used it myself on a few occasions to remove errant bra straps and such - but really, do we need to have a slimming feature in our cameras? Can we not even take an honest photo - is it just too real?

I, for one, will not buy it. I will not “touch up” a candid photo of myself. I choose the cheaper, more sensible, more authentic method. If I don’t like it, I delete it. (This is why there are very few pictures of me in my collection. I don’t like most of them.) Of course, the catch is - I’m forced to lose weight the old-fashioned way. Sigh. I’ll just consider it my sacrifice for integrity.

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