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Body Scanning=Body Shame

November 18, 2010

There's a whole lot of hullaballoo about the new airport body scanners. And now it's the holidays, plenty of people will be travelling and for those who say no to the new scanners there's an even more invasive pat down. Makes me glad I don't have to fly anywhere this season.
But I have to admit, maybe people should just suck it up and walk through the scanner. You see, recently I purchased an XBox 360 Kinect. It's a device that allows games much like the Wii, but with no controller. A series of cameras and infrared sensors pick up your body and use that image so you can use your body as the remote in many new games. It's pretty fun. And now instead of the Wii elbow, I'll have Kinect-omg-I-can't-move-my-body. One of the games I got was the Kinect Your Shape fitness game. It seems pretty effective, I like the Tai Chi routines, and the cardio is seriously kicking my ass so presumably that means it has the capacity to increase my fitness. The one weird thing is unlike many of the other Kinect games that show an avatar as "you" this shows just a single-color blob for you. And let me tell you, it's pretty accurate and leaves nothing to chance. It's like you wrapped me in blue saran wrap and then filmed me moving around in that. It looks exactly like me. And unfortunately so.
Every single roll of fat is there to see. What in "real life" might be not so obvious thanks to clothes and layers is there right in your face. And to top it off there's some slender trainer avatar right next to you on the screen to compare yourself with. Okay, it's a decent motivator for trying to get fit. Do I really look like that? And it's sort of embarrassing. So I can see why people walking through body scans would have some qualms about it. But you know what? We don't want people bringing dangerous items on our planes intending to do us harm. And there's plenty of stuff we tolerate that is embarrassing.
Going to IHop and wolfing down one of their huge sampler platters is pretty embarrassing. And people do it every day. Wearing tight jeans and showing off your muffin top is pretty embarrassing. Using a public restroom is pretty embarrassing. Watching the grocery store employee scan in your soda, ritz crackers, vodka and reeses cups while you're alone on a Friday night is pretty embarrassing.
When the waiter at a restaurant asks us what we want we don't chew them out for invading our privacy. We don't yell at the grocery store clerk for scanning all our items. We've come to expect there will be ways in which our privacy is violated all the time. I am constantly asked to pull out my driver's license as identification which quickly tells you my age, height and weight (although it's a little inaccurate). So if this technology works, and works well, and we can all get on plane knowing we're safe I think it's worth dealing with something that's a little uncomfortable. I don't feel like this is inhibiting my liberty. They aren't telling me what video games I can buy or taking away my firearms. I'm going through an ordeal for the convenience of flight. I mean, I could grow all my own food so the grocery store clerk doesn't see everything I buy, but most of us deal with that invasion of privacy for the convenience of shopping at a place where we can get the things we want.
One Comment leave one →
  1. November 18, 2010 8:09 pm

    As Lewis Black said this week on The Daily Show regarding the pat-down, "I get to go from New York to San Francisco in five hours AND someone touches my balls? What a deal!"

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