lifestyle

The latest Photoshop Fail. And this one's targeting our kids.

Taryn is Mamamia’s new Body Image Contributor and founder of the Body Image Movement.

By TARYN BRUMFITT

It’s official… we are starting to lose our grip on reality.

Corporations have railroaded women into physical alterations to meet the digital world’s unreal standards of how their bodies should look.

And now it’s time for our kids to be pawns in the game of who can earn the most money out of making someone feel like sh*t.

Photo-shopping school photos.

You’ve got to be kidding me right?  But sadly, this isn’t a joke.

The superficial digital-editing world has infiltrated our schools. Pimples, blemishes, moles, freckles – no worries, they can all be removed and your photos will be a “perfect” representation of your child.

Or will they?

Last week I came across a photography order form from a school in Arizona, United States.

For $3 students can have their photo enhanced with a “soft touch”, giving a more sophisticated look (because sophisticated is something that our teens should be striving for… pftt).

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Or the Re-Touch option for only $5 will remove facial blemishes and brighten teeth. I call this photo-shopping on crack.

But surely I thought – this couldn’t happen in Australia – could it? This is some whacky American fad…

But sure enough, it could happen here and it does.

I made a few phone calls to some of Australia’s largest school photography businesses and when asked about whether or not they would “touch up” the photos, I received a unanimously positive response:

“Sure we can. If the child has freckles or a mole you would like removed, we can do that, no problems.”

“Yes, we can and do remove pimples and blemishes.”

I quickly responded with, “Okay, thank you; goodbye” and almost had to cover my mouth from blurting out what I wanted to say (which included expletives and words like negligent BEEP irresponsible BEEP, BEEP, BEEP.).

Photos of my children are incredibly precious to me; as they would be to any parent.

One of the most exciting days of the school year – along with class assemblies and music performances – is the day when the school photos come home. My heart skips a beat when I see my little treasures’ faces captured in that moment, at that age, at that stage. The photos help me to remember those days as my children grow up and start to look different.

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I can’t imagine parents wanting their child to look different.

Don’t we, as parents, love our children unconditionally, no matter what they do or what they look like?

If you consent to the retouching of your child’s photo then you are sending a very clear message that what they look like and their “imperfections” matter.

I want my children to value themselves for their intellect, good nature, humour and kindness, not their looks!

One of my friends said to me, “But what about severe acne? Kids don’t want to see that in a photo.”

I responded with,”What about a child with a cleft palate, what about a child with burns, what about a redhead who hates her red hair and matching freckles, what about an albino child, what if, what if, what if…?”

Where do we draw the line?

Children are relying on our leadership as parents; they need us to be the voice of reason in this crazy, superficial world.

If we let these companies get away with standard retouching of photos of children as young as 4, we are enabling them to change the perception of what is normal, healthy and attainable. The outcome of children striving to obtain the unachievable and falling short of expectations is low self-esteem, lack of confidence and poor body image.

As a mother of 3, I am concerned for our young children. If we are sending them the message as early as kindergarten that what they look like ‘au naturel ‘ is not good enough and needs to be altered, is it any wonder that 1 in 4 teenage girls in Australia want to have cosmetic surgery?

Enough is enough; there is no place for photo-shopping in school photos. It’s time to teach our children resilience from reality not confidence from fantasy.

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Taryn Brumfitt is the Founder of Body Image Movement, a global movement which teaches women to “suck it up” and love their bodies. “My role is to harness and facilitate positive body image activism, I’d like to think of myself as a loveable activist!”.

You can find her speaking at Corporate events, promoting her ebook “Body Lovin’ Guide“, wearing dinner plates or in the kitchen feeding her tribe of 3 under 7. She plans to take over the world, one fridge at a time with her positive and cheerful magnets!

Does your child’s school offer digital enhancement to annual photos? Does that make you uncomfortable?

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