One of the most widespread things in Western society are digitally manipulated pictures. There are photoshopped images of people of every shape, size, ethnicity, sex, and every age. Even celebrities are enduring this and some do not even want it to happen – but the media seems to win. What is even more ridiculous is that the people being retouched are getting younger and younger. This happens way too often and nothing gets done about it! Take my son for instance, he is five. He had his first school photos taken several weeks ago – only for my husband and I to find they were photoshopped without consent! As soon as I took them out of the school folder and looked at them, I immediately realized they were photoshopped and as I brought them to my husbands attention, he agreed. It is understandable that lighting sometimes has to be adjusted. What is NOT understandable is when a child is being airbrushed! Our son has natural creases and dark circles under his eyes. I could tell that besides the lighting being adjusted (which ended up making his face have a slight spray tan hue), his right under-eye circle had practically been deleted. The other eye was left untouched which threw the whole photo off anyway. The natural creases and dark circles that we were used to seeing every day was taken away by someone who though it needed to be omitted. He is our child and he is real and the photo would have been appreciated in its original state! We don’t care how society views us or our child – in our eyes, our son is beautiful.
An example of retouching on a child’s photo
We never consented to such work being done to the school photo. It was very irritating to us. I called the Photo Studio and brought it to their attention. I will not disclose the company because I feel that the initial gentleman was decent enough to listen and out of respect I will not throw the business into the lime light considering in this day and age everyone needs their jobs. I explained what was wrong and he offered to mail the originals to us for comparison. Sure enough we received them in the mail and we were right about the alterations. Not just instinctively right, but literally right about the fact that our son’s school photo was manipulated. I called the gentleman at the photo studio and when I told him it was validated, he apologized on behalf of whomever photoshopped our son’s school photo. I told him how it made us feel and to please make sure that this does not happen again to any child. He proceeded to tell me that he agreed with us, but that they have had high-school aged girls come to their studio, asking them to remove freckles from their faces in photos. I told him that is sad and he agreed. Too common and society needs to do something about this. We would have paid for the originals on top of what we paid for the school photos, but he was generous enough after this mishap to let us keep the original photos. After the conversation I had so many emotions running through me. This is our child, our son and to us he is unique and beautiful. No matter what, no one should photoshop a child or anyone for that matter. The situation made us livid. Now I am here to spread the word and be another person to make it clear that photoshopping and the people behind it have gone too far. There are so many stories out there that end up crushing people’s spirit, their self confidence, and so much more. Now these things are affecting children at extremely young ages. When is it going to stop? Doesn’t anyone realize it is going to hurt future generations? I will admit that just like anyone, I was insecure at one point. I have acne and when I had a photo taken during my really bad outbreaks, I went in and retouched the area of my acne. I learned from that mistake because in the end it did not make me feel better about myself. Nothing changed. I still looked at the photo of myself as this person I did not want to be, regardless of editing my skin. I promised myself to never do that again. So I want to help people of any gender, ethnicity, and age see that you may have your few seconds of relief from retouching a photo but in the end it’s a photo, a digital copy of you. It’s not your personality on that photo that you have to live with the rest of your life. It’s a photo. Photos may temporarily make you feel good once touched up but you will be forever scarred if you don’t fix yourself from the inside. The outer shell will not be any better if the inner shell is not put together. No one in this life is perfect. We were not meant to be perfect. If we are broken, then the outer shell is the plaster that no matter how much it is edited will always be broken until we see ourselves for what and who we really are and learn to embrace ourselves. We all must set an example for future generations to come. That means we must start within ourselves and reach one person at a time. Please stop photoshopping, and start photo acknowledging. Break the cycle of Photoshop.