Women hate getting our pictures taken. Or, rather, as Leah Hardy muses in her first-person essay in the Times of London, we hate the way we look once they're taken; over two thirds of women surveyed by Hewlett Packard revealed that they are "deeply embarrassed" by the way they look in pictures. We hate it so much that an industry has built up around airbrushing and improving our digital selves for posterity: "www.digifacelift.com will whiten your teeth, slim you down and tidy your hair for around £12, while www.retouchphoto.co.uk can even give you a complete facelift, wiping away sagging jowls and eyebags, with prices starting at just £2. And for those who think that prevention is better than cure, Hewlett Packard digital cameras now include a "slimming" feature, which stretches your image, visually removing about 10lbs in the process - a practice dubbed "digital dieting."' By the same token, people have learned to 'de-tag' themselves on Facebook, so as not to be identified with less than flattering images.
And yet, we're photographed more than ever before. Whereas our grandmas could get away with one glam studio portrait for a fella to take overseas, our candid mugs are slapped all over Facebook and MySpace, company websites and phones. Says one shrink, "Our degree of liking or disliking snaps of ourselves depends on how closely they match not our real self, but our ideal self." Ideal self, nothing; most of us would just like to not look ten pounds heavier than we do in real life, and this can become a vicious circle: knowing how awful you'll look in a picture, that this is the image strangers and future generations will have of you, adds a stress level that invariably sabotages the shot. And of course, this is an anxiety that's far more prevalent amongst women; as Dodai put it, "sadly i think that it is just like everything else; women scrutinize themselves so much because they expect to be under the microscope by whomever is seeing the picture — but guys rarely care if they look dumb/fat/stoopid/stoned/red eyed."