Why Does Amazon Want Photos of You in Form-Fitting Clothing?

And more importantly, what does it really do with them?

front and back shots of man wearing a T-shirt
Nice T-Shirt. Amazon wants to make you a better one.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Amazon wants to make you a very special, custom T-shirt. All it needs in exchange is $25 and detailed photos of your body in form-fitting clothing. Why does Amazon need to know every last curve of your body? To help figure out the perfect size for your very special, custom T-shirt, of course. But don’t worry, according to Amazon, any photos you provide will go unseen by human eyes, and will be promptly deleted after your ideal measurements have been determined by non-humans.

Despite Amazon’s assurance that it will not be holding onto any photographs of your body or using that information for any purposes beyond T-shirt customization, the company’s new Made for You service is still raising some questions about what exactly Amazon is doing with the detailed info it collects about your body. Writing for the Washington Post, Heather Kelly noted that while smartphone owners have grown accustomed to giving our tech access to personal information about our bodies in recent years, using faces or fingerprints to unlock our devices, giving tech companies access to “the detailed shape of our bodies” can still feel much more “revealing and personal” than letting Apple fingerprint us.

As we’ve seen time and time again, we often have little to no idea what tech companies are really doing with our personal information. After years of high-profile data breaches and scandals suggesting Big Tech isn’t as careful with our personal data as we may have hoped, it’s hard to take a tech giant of Amazon’s infamy at its word. Amazon may say the photos are deleted, but who can blame us for wondering where they might really end up?

Even as our skepticism about handing over personal data to Big Tech deepens, however, so too does the normalization of doing so. As Kelly noted, this isn’t the first time Amazon has launched a service that requests intimate access to our bodies. In fact, Amazon’s first attempt to get up close and personal with us demanded even more invasive information than the photos Made for You requires. Launched last year, the Halo fitness app required users to strip down to their underwear for a 360-degree body scan, purportedly to determine body fat percentage.

While handing over photos in tight clothing to help Amazon make you a perfectly fitted T-shirt might feel a bit less violating than stripping down to near-nudity so an app can better pinpoint your flaws, it still seems largely unnecessary. After all, most of us have been successfully picking out our own T-shirts for most of our lives. But while you may think you know your own body best, Amazon begs to differ.

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