Parents were outraged after receiving photos of their child on a recent school photo day, slamming a disturbing new trend.
Jennifer Greene doesn’t want her 12-year-old daughter Madeline to feel pressured to look perfect.
So when the Maryland mom opened up the Lifetouch photography firm’s seventh-grade school photo package and saw her urging parents to shell out an additional $ 12 for portrait “retouching” services – y including teeth whitening, skin tone and blemish removal – she panicked.
âI was shocked,â said Greene, 43. The post office.
“I strongly disagree with (retouching a school photo of a child) because it teaches children that they have to be perfect all the time and that they can change (a flaw perceived) with the click of a mouse. “
Editing options on school portraits aren’t new – but they’re now available to students as early as kindergarten and are becoming as ubiquitous as face editing filters on social media, which have triggered an increase in anxiety and stress. depression in adolescents. girls.
Greene, a travel blogger and social media administrator, was so furious with Photoshop’s proposal that she lambasted the company on Twitter.
“I’m going to need someone to explain to me why @Lifetouch is offering PHOTO RETOUCH for KIDS school photos ?!” she tweeted at the end of last month. “What the hell?!”
She said she never received a response. In a statement to The Post, Lifetouch said, âOur goal is always to authentically capture every child we photograph. Photo editing is a completely optional service that customers choose to add to photo packages. Most, if not all, school photography companies offer this service and it’s a wait-and-see option available to schools.
Last November, Tampa, Florida mom Kristin Loerns did a double take when she received school photos from her son Kieran. Her adorable freckles were gone.
“I gave permission for ‘basic touch-ups,’ which would remove blemishes, and they removed all of her freckles instead,” the 36-year-old blogger (@loefamilyloves) and the photographer told The Post.
She complains to Lifetouch, who remedied the situation by returning the photos with Kieran’s adorable freckles.
School image alterations don’t seem to be limited to airbrushing a child’s skin, teeth, or blemishes.
Whitney Rose, a mother of two who is hearing impaired, told the Post that she believed a photographer at another company had wiped her 3-year-old son’s hearing aids from his school photo. His outrage over the apparent violation garnered 2.2 million views on TikTok.
âThese are my son’s hearing aids. They help him hear, they are a part of who he is and he loves them, âRose said on his TikTok account, @TheseDeafKidsRock.
“It sends him a message that part of who he is, his hearing loss, is something he should be ashamed of.”
But Heidi Green, a Manhattan mom, event photographer and professional portrait painter who spent 10 years taking school photos, said it’s often parents who strive for perfection.
“The parent feels that he must [the flaw] fixed in order to take advantage of the image of the school or to make the child more beautiful, âshe said.
Green said there is a fine line between standard photo retouching and damaging retouching, especially if the perceived imperfection is permanent.
A year ago, a client asked Green to remove a lifelong scar from a birth defect on his daughter’s face.
âI felt bad about it,â she said. âI smoothed it out a bit so that she was happy with the photo without changing too much.
âRemoving a permanent scar for me would be like saying, ‘Can you make my child’s eyes blue? “, Added Green. “;
Still, Green says not all changes are grim. It has long offered free touch-ups for kids whose photos showed visible scratches, blemishes, messy hair while playing, or glare from glasses. Some changes, like minor teeth whitening, are part of the overall photo editing process.
This type of minor touch-up is something kids won’t notice, said Yamalis Diaz, a child psychologist at NYU Langone.
What’s disturbing is when a child learns that their permanent features have been altered in a photo – and no longer reflect what they see in the mirror.
“Could that start to make them feel inadequate?” â¦ Can it cause some anxiety and depressed mood, eating disorders, body dysmorphia? Absolutely, âDiaz said.
Unlike adults, children are in an âevolvingâ phase of understanding themselves – and something as simple as playing with a school photo can be damaging.
âInstead of accepting your physical characteristics, your disability, your features, your appearance, you are supposed to fix it or hide it,â Diaz said.
“And that’s a dangerous message to send.”
This article was originally published in the New York Post and has been republished with permission