I’m sure you’ve all heard that saying and let’s face it, all parents do think their newborns are the most beautiful creatures ever even when they really are red and squished looking and blotchy. But beauty is – of course – a subjective thing and it is “only skin deep”. As parents we aim to help our children develop self-esteem, self-belief and an awareness that our physical appearance is only a part of that. Imagine then how disgusted I was last week when a friend posted on Facebook something very disturbing she had received via her son’s school. Her two sons attend our local post-primary and recently had the yearly school photographs taken.
The proof and order form arrived to my friend and she was deciding what to order when her attention was caught by something towards the bottom of the form. I quote it verbatim here: “For only €5 you can avail of our professional studio quality digital enhancement. We will minimise any skin imperfections, while also softening and improving the overall image.”
Now bear in mind this order form was sent with pictures of a teenager. Teenagers are frequently unhappy with what they perceive as flaws in their appearance. Teenagers tend to have spots, to be prone to greasy hair, to be utterly self-conscious. We all have teenage photos we cringe at now – “Oh god look at my hair!!” “What the hell was I wearing” etc etc. But for a professional photography company to actively promote the idea that its a good thing to airbrush our teenage blemishes and create an ‘improved’ image of our children?? I’m horrified by this.
My friend emailed the company concerned and also the school – she’s still waiting on a response. She won’t let this rest and she is right. What kind of message are we giving our kids if we do this? The thought that some parents might actually go for this is a scary one.