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New Trend Among Parents — Photoshopping Their Kids' School Portraits! Would You Do This?

Fri, December 17, 2010 9:30am EDT by Add first Comment

iStockAnd we thought retouching was only for the celebrities and models in magazines! Nowadays, kids’ “flaws” can disappear right out of their school portraits, thanks to Photoshop.

Cowlick? Gone. Scab? Bye, bye. Bad hair day? No way! Parents everywhere are choosing to retouch their child’s school photo, whether it be erasing birthmarks, scars, moles, pimples or braces! The New York Times is reporting that school photography companies around the country are offering parents — and their kids — the opportunity to retouch their pictures and make them better than ever. All you need to do? Check a small box in the corner of your order form. But is this necessary?

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After parents began requesting fixes, like straightening out a bad haircut or replacing a missing tooth, companies started developing more and more technologies that allowed them to put a smile on many parents’ faces. And the amount of retouching requests has risen every year! One company, Lifetouch, which takes about 30 million school pictures a year, says that 10 percent of their photos of elementary school students are altered. And by the seventh grade, the requests go up, the New York area manager for Lifetouch, Joseph Sells says, adding that half of the students in the senior class order retouching. “The media and magazines have exposed our marketplace to people that are well-groomed and well cared for,” he says.

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Lifetouch offers different levels of altering, ranging from a $6 “basic” treatment to a $10 to 20 “premium” package to very expensive custom changes! “There’s really not much limit,” he says about what can be tweaked. If you erase things that are on your child’s body every day, then what will a child think when they realize you wanted their “flaw” to be taken away? Photoshop can be a good thing for scabs or “boo-boos” that will eventually fade, but to retouch something that is a part of who your child is seems wrong.

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“In some ways, even though they’re trying to help the child’s confidence, it could inadvertently undermine it,” Dr. Bradley S. Peterson of Colombia University told The New York Times. “What supports healthy growth of the child and capacity to love themselves is parental idealization, that this child is perfect, and the apple of one’s eye.” Dr. Peterson says. When a parent tinkers with a photo, “it can inadvertently send a message that ‘I perceive you as less than perfect and not ideal.’ ”

Hollymoms, would you ever retouch your child’s school photo? Or do you think it is wrong?

–Leigh Blickley

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