Wednesday, December 1

Parents outraged by the trend of “ retouching ” school photographs

Parents have been outraged after receiving photos of their children from a recent day of school photography, criticizing a troubling new trend.

Jennifer Greene doesn’t want her 12-year-old daughter, Madeline, to feel pressured to look perfect.

So when the Maryland mother opened the seventh grader’s school photo packet from the photography company Lifetouch and saw that it was urging parents to set aside an additional $ 12 for portrait “retouching” services, including whitening of teeth, skin tone at night and blemish removal, freaked out.

“I was surprised,” said Greene, 43. The charge.

“I completely disagree with (retouching a child’s school image), because it is teaching children that they need to look perfect all the time and that they can change (a perceived flaw) with the click of a mouse.”

Retouching options in school portraits are not new, but are now being offered to students as young as pre-K and are becoming as ubiquitous as face-altering filters on social media, leading to an increase in anxiety and depression in adolescents. girls.

Greene, a travel blogger and social media manager, was so outraged by Photoshop’s proposal that she criticized the company on Twitter.

“I’m going to need someone to explain to me why @Lifetouch offers PHOTO RETROOFING for KIDS school pictures!” she tweeted at the end of last month. “What the hell?!”

He said he never received a reply. In a statement to The Post, Lifetouch said: “Our goal is always to authentically capture each child we photograph. Photo retouching is a totally optional service that customers choose to add to photo packages. Most, if not all, school photography companies offer this service and it is expected as an option available to schools. “

Last November, Tampa, Florida mother Kristin Loerns was shocked when she received her son Kieran’s school photos. Her adorable freckles had faded.

“I gave him permission for ‘basic touch-ups’, which would remove blemishes, and instead removed all the freckles,” said the 36-year-old blogger (@loefamilyloves) and the photographer told The Post.

She complained to Lifetouch, which remedies the situation by forwarding the photos with Kieran’s adorable freckles returned.

School image disturbances do not appear to be limited to airbrushing a child’s skin, teeth, or blemishes.

Whitney Rose, a mother of two hearing-impaired young children, told The Post that she believes a photographer from another company erased her 3-year-old son’s hearing aids from his school photograph. His outrage at the apparent offense garnered 2.2 million views on TikTok.

“These are my son’s hearing aids. They help him listen, they are part of who he is and he likes them, “Rose said on her TikTok account. @TheseDeafKidsRock.

“He’s sending him a message that part of him, his hearing loss, is something he should be ashamed of.”

But Manhattan mom Heidi Green, an event photographer and professional portrait painter who spent 10 years taking school photos, said it’s often parents who seek perfection.

“The father feels that he has to get [the flaw] arranged to enjoy the image of the school, or to make the child look better, “he said.

Green said there is a fine line between standard photo editing and harmful touch-ups, particularly if the perceived blemish is permanent.

One year, a client asked Green to erase a lifelong scar caused by a birth defect on his daughter’s face.

“I felt bad about that,” he said. “I smoothed it out a bit so that she was happy with the image without changing much.

“Removing a permanent scar would be like saying, ‘Can you make my son’s eyes blue?’” Green added. “Because why would you want your child to look in the picture as if he doesn’t look in real life?”

Still, Green says not all edits are sinister. It has long offered free touch-ups for kids whose photos showed visible scratches, blemishes, messy hair from play, or the glare from glasses. Some changes, like minor teeth whitening, are part of the overall photo editing process.

Those kinds of minor tweaks are something kids won’t notice, said Yamalis Diaz, a child psychologist at NYU Langone.

What is worrisome is when a child learns that their permanent features have changed in a photo and no longer reflect what they see in the mirror.

“Could that start to make them feel inadequate? … Can that lead to anxiety and depression, eating disorders, body dysmorphia? Absolutely, ”Diaz said.

Unlike adults, children are in an “evolutionary” stage of understanding themselves, and something as simple as playing with a school image can be detrimental.

“Instead of accepting your physical characteristics, your disability, your features, your appearance, you are supposed to fix it or hide it,” Diaz said.

“And that’s a dangerous message to send.”

This article originally appeared on New York Post and republished with permission

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