Parents expressed outrage at school after they excessively edited students' back-to-school photos

Saturday, 30/12/2023, 17:25 (GMT+7)

Parents are furious as schools are offering student photo packages from Lifetouch photography company for $12, creating pressure on children to look perfect.

The trend of retouching school pictures has sparked outrage and controversy among parents, as photography companies offer services to whiten teeth, even out skin tone, and remove imperfections from children's photos. 

This has created unhealthy pressure and negatively impacted children's self-confidence, prompting many to speak out against altering their natural appearance.

Parents stunned by school's $12 photo package that can remove all flaws in children

Jennifer Greene, a concerned mother from Maryland, is determined to shield her 12-year-old daughter, Madeline, from the unrealistic expectations of looking flawlessly perfect. 

Therefore, when Jennifer received Madeline's school picture package from Lifetouch, a renowned photography company, she was taken aback. 

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A $12 school photo package makes parents angry as pressure on kids to be perfect. Image Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Greene

The package contained an unsettling request, urging parents to fork out an extra $12 for portrait "retouching" services. 

These services promise to enhance the photos by whitening teeth, evening out skin tone, and eliminating any blemishes. 

Photo editing services for students increase self-esteem and pressure to be perfect

Jennifer's emotional response can only be described as a mixture of shock, disbelief, and dismay at the message being conveyed to young children—that they must conform to an unattainable standard and that imperfections can be effortlessly erased with a mere click of a mouse.

The realization of this trend left Jennifer outraged and fueled her determination to raise awareness about the potential detrimental effects such practices can have on a child's self-esteem and body image.

“I was shocked,” Greene, 43, told The Post. 

“I completely disagree with [retouching a child’s school picture], because it’s teaching kids that they need to look perfect all the time," the mother shockingly said.

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Parents believe that excessive editing causes children to lose confidence and increases rates of depression. Image Credit: Courtesy of Kristin Amanda/@loef

While retouching options for school portraits have existed for some time, what is particularly concerning is that these services are now being extended to students as young as those in pre-K. 

The availability of such retouching options has become as prevalent as the face-altering filters commonly found on social media platforms.

Unfortunately, these filters have been associated with a significant increase in anxiety and depression among teenage girls. 

The fact that similar practices are now being introduced at an even younger age through school portraits raises valid concerns about the potential impact on children's self-image and mental well-being.

Parents' outrage at student portrait photo retouching service

Jennifer Greene, a travel blogger and social media administrator, was deeply angered by the proposition of using Photoshop on school portraits. 

“I’m going to need someone to explain to me why @Lifetouch offers PHOTO RETOUCH for KIDS school pics?!”

In November of last year, Kristin Loerns inspected the pictures, she noticed that her kid's charming freckles had mysteriously disappeared.

As a 36-year-old blogger and photographer (@loefamilyloves), she understood the importance of preserving a child's natural features and was disappointed by the alteration.

Expressing her dissatisfaction, Kristin complained to Lifetouch, the photography company responsible for the school portraits. 

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Lifetouch has been criticized for excessive editing, taking away the natural beauty of children. Image Credit: Courtesy of Kristin Amanda/@loef

Thankfully, Lifetouch took swift action to rectify the situation and promptly sent Kristin a new set of photos, ensuring that Kieran's adorable freckles were restored to their rightful place.

The issue of school picture alterations extends beyond the retouching of a child's skin, teeth, or blemishes. 

According to Whitney Rose, a mother of two hearing-impaired toddlers, she suspects that a photographer from a different company went a step further and erased her 3-year-old son's hearing aids from his school picture.

“These are my son’s hearing aids. They help him hear, they’re a part of who he is and he likes them,” Rose said.

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

Negative effects of school photo editing services

Yamalis Diaz, a child psychologist at NYU Langone, explains that minor retouching in school pictures may go unnoticed by children. 

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Excessive photo editing causes children to lose awareness of their true appearance, increasing rates of depression because of the pressure to look perfect. Image Credit: Getty

However, the real concern lies in the fact that children discover their permanent features have been altered in a photograph, no longer reflecting their true appearance as seen in the mirror.

Unlike adults who have a more developed self-concept, children are still in the process of understanding and accepting themselves. Therefore, even seemingly insignificant changes in a school picture can be emotionally damaging.

Additionally, this excessive editing leads to some anxiety and depressed mood, eating disorders, and body dysmorphia.