Monday, April 25, 2011

The Pressure to be Perfect By Hannah Davis

Why are looks so important to our society? There are stereotypes abounding about what the perfect man or woman should look like. A desired man tends to be tall and muscular while women need to be lean, tall and endowed with large boobs. People are struggling with their reflection because society has put so much pressure on everyone to be attractive and seductive.

I don’t know about you but I feel the pressure to always look my best, buy the trendy clothing, and use dieting and exercise to reach that impossible body image of models. While I may not actually do all these things, there is a voice in the back of my mind that says I should. Others are dealing with these demands by undergoing drastic processes like plastic surgery. Others are developing mental disorders such as eating disorders or body dysmorphic disorder where they believe themselves to be ugly even if they have no noticeable flaws.

In regards to plastic surgery, the trend is quite frightening to me. Since 1997, there has been more than a 162% increase in cosmetic surgery. The top five surgical procedures for men, according to the ASAPS’s 2008 statistics on cosmetic surgery, were liposuction, rhinoplasty, eyelid surgery, hair transplants and breast reduction surgery. Women’s top five was breast augmentation, liposuction, eyelid surgery, abdonimoplasty and breast reduction. There is now even a television show called Bridalplasty that has women competing to earn cosmetic surgery so their wedding can be “perfect”. I watched an episode once and was shocked when the show’s host told the contestant being kicked off that “she would have a nice wedding, but not a perfect one” because she wasn’t going to have a change to get surgery. This message alarms me and makes me wonder if society has gone too far in its reach for perfection.

Then there are eating disorders, which are more common then you may think. According to South Carolina’s Department of Mental Health, around 8 million Americans have an eating disorder and almost half of all Americans personally know someone who has an eating disorder. Whether it is anorexia, bulimia, or binge-eating disorder, these disorders have been attributed with the highest level of mortality when compared to all other mental illnesses. The treatment is costly and not very effective; many people don’t even try to get help.

Why is it that 50% of girls between 11 and 13 see themselves overweight? What has allowed us to have anorexia as the third most common chronic illness among adolescents? Is it all the celebrities who have had eating disorders, the media’s pressure to be thin, or because of a pervasive mindset that has found its way into our culture?

And then there is body dysmporhic disorder, also called imagined ugliness, where people are excessively dissatisfied with a part of their appearance, imagined or minor imperfections, which constantly occupy their thoughts and make them feel horrible. These individuals obsess about the imperfection and use compulsions to try and relieve tensions. Because they are ashamed or upset by their appearance, people with body dysmorphic disorder tend to avoid others by staying home or covering up their perceived imperfection.

When I researched the disorder I came to a very helpful website called, which has information for parents, kids, and teens. On their website they stated that the disorder tends to start in the teen years and may be caused by a combination of an imbalance in serotonin levels and cultures messages about body image. If the problem isn’t treated early on it can continue into adulthood and affect the person’s life in many ways, including unpleasant thoughts about their body, long and repeated grooming processes, and eventually isolation that results in dropping out of school or losing a job in order to avoid people who will see their imperfections.

All of the above processes show how people try to deal with society’s pressure to be perfect and its affect on men and women. Each is a severe issue that needs to be looked at in order to help those people develop a healthy lifestyle and outlook on their body.

So let’s take a stand against modern society’s perception of beauty. Let’s all embrace who we are, flaws and all, and accept that what we have is beautiful.

If you need help with an eating disorder please contact the National Eating Disorders Association at 1-800-913-2237 or at their website

Do we want to be a cookie cutter society where everyone looks the same; women are tan, blonde and skinny where men are rippling with muscles, athletic, and tall? Personally I don’t want that future. If you don’t either then take a stand and tell someone they are beautiful for exactly who they are. Look into your mirror and believe the person staring back is perfect. Learn to love yourself.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ethical Shopping Mobile Apps

I was inspired by a CNN report on Ethical Shopping apps to take a look at what could be an increasingly popular segment of mobile apps. Ethical apps have an element of community involvement, shopping, sharing with friends and continuous updates that make them a compelling proposition not just for the conscious shopper.

There are several country-based apps currently available on iTunes:

1. The Good Shopping Guide priced £2.99 aimed at the UK market
2.  The Good Guide (free) aimed at the US market
3. Shop Ethical $2.49 aimed at the Australian market
4. Barcoo (free) developed in Germany but available in English

Barcoo and the Good Guide are also available on the Android market.

One of the key features of these apps is a barcode scanner, with both the Barcoo and The Good Guide apps providing this, though some app developers exclude this as smaller brands would 'slip through the net'.

Data on the 'ethical footprint' of specific brands is normally gathered from Ethical Trade Associations like Fair Trade or Friends of the Earth. According to William Sankey of the Ethical Company Organisation in an interview for The Guardian although there is growing awareness of the benefits of fair trade and organic goods, there is less information that gives consumers an overall ethical footprint of the product and the company behind the brand. 

"Shoppers may be surprised to find that often there is not a price premium [on ethical goods]," he said. Beko, for example, makers of the cheapest larder fridge is also the top-scoring ethical brand in this category. 

As mobile commerce takes on a bigger role in terms of overall e-commerce and electronic payments, there is a gap available for Fair Trade Bodies to supply their Ethical Product Databases to online stores and so allow shoppers to make more informed purchasing decisions.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Indoor Positioning -Cloud Support for Location Apps?

Indoor Positioning Systems (occasionally referred to as IPS) are hotting up...Navteq recently announced the launch of their Destination Maps service enabling "orientation, guidance and routing for interior spaces"
According to Navteq, Destination Maps "moves the industry beyond the interactive floor plan maps available today and into a three-dimensional data model essential to a more advanced exploration and guidance experience.  It does this by providing pedestrian-specific attributes unique to interior requirements like stairs and elevators as well as recognizing different floor levels (called Z-levels) that are essential for applications to "understand" movement between floors once inside a venue and generate routes and guidance.  NAVTEQ Destination Maps also include a Virtual Connections feature that enables more intuitive guidance by recognizing how pedestrians "cut across" open areas."
Hopefully, the NAQVTEQ development will come hand in hand with more widespread deployment of Femto cells within buildings, to get over those annoying network black-spots that still plague mobile subscribers in certain areas.
A number of location start-ups are looking to capitalize on the promise of indoor location, including Dubai-based GloPos and Swedish start-up Qubulus.
Qubulus co-founder Frank Schuil recently contributed to an article for TheNextWeb explaining where indoor positioning can benefit the current application market the most. Here are a couple of ideas from that article suggested by Frank:
1. Airport apps
In this case indoor positioning can benefit all parties. Consumers can meet other travelers in their proximity, get point of sales notifications from the shops in the airport and know how long it would take to walk to the gate based on their current position.
The airport can monitor the mobile traffic for crowd control, staff management and alerts and the airlines can locate passengers giving them a push notification to start walking towards the gate just in time to prevent delays.  There are already some nifty mobile apps out there that could easily extend their service this way like GateGuru and American Airlines’ recently released Android app.
2. Point of sales apps

Location-based coupons in one way or another have always been the holy grail of the LBS industry. To be able to target a consumer with the right message at the point of sale can drastically improve the ROI of any marketing campaign.

The problem to date is that shops are often inside malls and that products are always indoors. Without indoor positioning the point of sale has proven to be too distant for people to act upon the offer. To get people to buy into an offer indoor positioning needs to drop down to <1m accuracy and become a commodity that existing services can seamlessly integrate into their service to trigger the consumer in the physical space. As a reminder to those who see the possibilities of trigger marketing; the key is not to be as intrusive as the  mall screens in the Tom Cruise movie hit Minority Report.
One of the traditional issues with IPS was the need for building owners (such as shopping mall owners) to make an investment in (expensive) transmitting technology. New technologies based on hybrid positioning, smarter algorhythms and cloud-based infrastructure could take IPS beyond it's current niche markets.