Mom Drags Photographer for Offering Retouching of 8-Year-Olds' School Portraits

An Arizona mom shared a school photographer's form that offers retouching to eliminate blemishes, whiten teeth, and even skin tone.

screenshot of stock image of school portrait being retouched in photoshop
Photo: iStock/Getty Images

Most parents love getting their kid's school portrait proofs back, eager to share the best shot with friends and family. But the experience can be a challenging one for kids who are struggling with self-esteem, compromised by a social media-worshipping culture that frequently celebrates unrealistic, uber-filtered beauty standards. When kids as young as 7 are struggling with body image issues, the last thing elementary school-aged children need is to be offered retouching services for their class portraits. Yet, a mom from Arizona tweeted that her 8-year-old came home with a form offering precisely that.

Sam Walker from Phoenix shared, "The girls have their school photo today, and there is the option to AIRBRUSH the picture! There are two levels offered!! What the....?! Have complained! What 8-year-old needs to be paranoid about an 'uneven skin tone'?"

Walker's tweet was accompanied by a photo of the form which gives parents the option of premium retouching or basic retouching. Premium apparently "whitens teeth" and "evens skin tone." Meanwhile, the basic option "removes blemishes."

Walker told Metro US that her youngest daughter has a rare autoimmune condition that causes lesions to develop on her skin and makes her teeth go yellow. "When you have a child who has some issues and so to suggest we can wipe that away you can look like everyone else is incredibly dangerous and very sad," the mom told the outlet.

She also explained that she and her husband took further action following the incident, confronting her daughters' school. They reportedly told the couple that offering airbrushing is a standard practice among all photographers they hire. The photographer himself told Walker's husband that the form is a generic one that they use for older kids, as well, some of whom might be self-conscious about acne.

Clearly, photographers would do well to consider their audience and create separate forms for younger kids. At the same time, Walker's experience highlights an opportunity for parents to talk to their L.O.s about embracing unique traits as awesome and beautiful, as opposed to a case for Photoshop.

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