Monday, September 21, 2009

Kelly Clarkson, You're Not Alone

A friend of mine recently revealed to me a (new?) trend that took me by surprise. Her daughter, who just began preschool, will sit for school pictures this week. Here's the thing: Parents were offered the opportunity to have their children's photos airbrushed! The idea is that that stray hair, a facial blemish, or any other unsightly addition can be wiped away for eternity.

I'd like to know from parents (and prospective parents alike) if you'd elect to have your child's pictures airbrushed. What factors would you weigh in your decision? Would it make a difference if you could approve the "after" shot, in comparison to the original?

22 comments:

BreezieGirl said...

If the airbrushing really does stick to little things like: stray crumbs (we are talking preschool here), stray hairs, etc... I think that's fine. I fix those things in the photos I take. If they are changing the look of the child, that's problematic. If they are cleaning up a photo (and most photographers do w/o mentioning it), I think that's fine.

msblenkins said...

Well, I'm not a parent, or even a prospective one, but my gut reaction to this was, "Wow. Preschool?!" That seems awfully young to consider something like airbrushing. I mean, what kinds of "blemishes" do Pre-K children even have? I guess I could see the flyaway hair thing, but even then--these kids are what, 3 or 4? They'll have a bunch of other opportunities to have school pictures taken--not every one has to be perfect. OTOH, I do remember that there was airbrushing available (or perhaps, just *done*?) for the senior photos in my high school yearbook, and I remember thinking it wasn't such a bad thing then: "Sure, smooth out my hair, hide that zit, etc." But then, we were 18, so it seems less inappropriate somehow. And it wasn't anywhere near as extreme as what they do to cover models (at least, I never heard anyone saying they'd been "thinned" or had their skin lightened or anything like that). Anyway, for a preschooler, it just seems like overkill.

p.s. Glad to see you back from hiatus!

Villamor family said...

For me...that is what makes the preschool pictures so adorable...the quirky grins, crumbs, fly-a-way hairs, etc. I think it is a little too much too soon...i could see if for SEnior potriats(to a degree)...just reminds me of the show Toddlers and Tiaras (on TLC). Those children look a little creepy in their airbrushed photos.

Leaper said...

As far back as I can remember there was always an option for 'soft touch' or something on the forms for my school pictures, to smooth out blemishes. I have no idea about preschol or kindergarten, but it was there in elementary school.

Meira said...

We did have a blemish airbrushed out. My kids were 1, 1, and 8 yrs old, and my daughter (1) had fallen and busted her lip the week before. The swelling was gone but there was a large scab, which was airbrushed out. That was 3 years ago. On the one hand, it seems dumb to me now that we took it out, especially since she is pretty clumsy and it would have been an accurate reflection of her 'personality'. On the other hand, those are the only 'professional' pictures we've ever had taken of all the kids (and we are lax in that department, so it may be many more years before we have more) -- so as the picture taking was a rare occurrence, it felt like kind-of a big deal that she not have a scab that drew one's eye away from everything in the picture.
Long story short: I did it, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Erin said...

We had that option in High School, but I find it kind of horrifying to think of preschool parents worrying about that, other than what Meira said, of course. It seems like it should be a special request for special circumstances though.

Pamela said...

Putting in my own two cents on the photo retouching... When I was 8, I sustained a coffee-table-collision related injury and knocked out one of my front teeth. It was an adult one that had already come in, and much fuss and bother resulted in trying to get the darned thing to set in my head. It eventually did. To the bone. I had a tooth, technically, but as I grew older it was so short that I looked gap-toothed when I smiled. So I stopped smiling.

When I attended a computer camp at about 13 years old, this was when Photoshop and digital photography were pretty new. Everyone was getting their picture snapped for a big group composite shot. Me included, after much protest. They managed to get me to smile an open-mouthed smile, which I thought was awful... and then they brought up the clone brush, filled in my missing tooth, and saved that to put on the group photo. It felt good, really really good. (A short while later I finally got some badass surgery to get that tooth even with the other. Happy ending, woo.)

Kindergarden and pre-school seem much too young for "blemish correction". When you're that little, the little bumps and bruises and missing bits are what make you YOU, it seems to me. I'm not sure what my story illustrates, other than the fact that I'm vain and anxious despite how much I protest... I think offering touchups for a kid that does have some kind of anxiety about their appearance may not be such a bad thing... but so young? Yow.

H. said...

Oh I'd have it done, as long as they were doing it to just maybe wipe away stray hairs, crumbs,, stains on clothes..or even blinking/weird squinting, as much as a parent may love her child, a non-squinting photo beats a closed-eyed one.
And as one gets older, you can bed middle school and high school students would LOVE to have their photo's retouched. Just sayin.

Eve said...

Huh. When I was in elementary school, I had a lot of angst over a mole above my upper lip. I absolutely hated it, and I probably would have had it airbrushed out in pictures if I could. It's odd because I can't remember disliking anything else about my appearance apart from my height.

Anyway, that mole is a part of me and I don't notice it anymore, except when I had an infection and it disappeared for a while. I missed it.

Long story short, I'd be bummed today if someone had let me airbrush that mole out as a kid.

Amanda said...

I'm only 24, but they were doing minor airbrushing even when I was in gradeschool-- to remove braces, zits, and stray hairs. They couldn't do anything about my tendency to blink only one eye as the flash went off, but something tells me they might do even that these days.

I definitely think there's something wrong with the concept retouching personal features though.

I Hate to Weight said...

??????????? how can this be? children will learn that they're not okay just as they are.

it scared me that liz miller's body was considered PLUS-sized. and wasn't it so nice that a straight size (what is that, anyway) magazine included her in its copy.

airbrushing childrens school pictures -- THAT terrifies me.

i am so sad now.

jaed said...

For a formal portrait, it doesn't bother me. For something that's posed, and where the kids are dressed up for it, it seems appropriate. (Assuming they're not Photoshopping the life out of the kids, that is.)

But I can see some very bad directions this could go in, oh yes I can. There's nothing wrong in principle with a little Photoshopping of magazine covers, until you end up in a world where the "photos" of women are all a far distance from how those women actually look.

azusmom said...

I heard about this, and it's a slippery slope. (I've seen some parents of middle-schoolers make appointments at tanning salons so their kids won't look "too pale" in the photo. So in stead, they look ORANGE.)
Personally, I want my kids' photos to look the way my kids look. Stray hairs and all. I agree that that's part of the charm.

vronruns21 said...

I recently came across this blog when searching for information on the Columbia University study on brain abnormalities in ED patients, which you mentioned in a previous post. As I perused your blog, I was quite surprised, and speaking as a person, who has suffered from an eating disorder, insulted. Although I find it admirable that you are preaching self/ size acceptance, and are brining light to the fact many women struggle with these issues, I cannot see how as a sane, educated person you are trying to sell the idea that all women have eating disorders. It is completely irrational! A true ED is a facet of one’s personality, was/is always there lurking beneath the surface, and is usually expressed under stress, as a result of trauma or pressure, etc. ED’s are not thinking you have a fat ass, or going on the occasional diet, or maybe even purging every couple months after a big meal. They are extreme pathologies of the aforementioned (sadly) common behaviors, and frankly the classification of EDNOS in the DSMIV is outrageous! ED’s are the worst of the worst, sure most women probably do have some pretty fucked up feelings concerning food and body image, but in no way do they have an ED. Everyone cannot be abnormal; perhaps there is just a new standard of what is normal when it comes to these issues. Maybe that is what you should be investigating, the cultural shift towards extreme dieting behaviors, and the ever changing state of what it means to be mentally ill in our ever evolving culture. I should also mention I am an undergraduate student, studying psychology at New York University, and not some pro Anna 15 year old idiot. Also, as I mentioned before I have suffered from an eating disorder for six years, been in my fair share of treatment centers, and have met some people whose behavior is anything but common when it comes to food. In addition, I’ve been in recovery for six months, am not engaging in ED behaviors, and am actually starting to feel good about myself, so I guess I am now the one woman in all of North America who doesn’t have an ED. Go figure.

Tanner said...

We're talking about Big Bob's Photography, not "Stupidly Glamorous People Weekly." Big Bob get's paid to present the person seen in the mirror the best way possible, not muse over the naive conception of human physical perfection. Big Bob also has enough work cut out for him portrait-ing 12,968 schoolkids 3-18 without having to set an arbitrary age for airbrushing and double his paperwork while he's at it.

Personally, I'd think of a big scab and a big zit (age 6 and 12) both of which did not exist the day before my photos were taken, consider the fact that half the school gets photos taken after lunch (Popsicle lips) and check "yes" expecting a very modest and tasteful job or my money back.

Proud FA said...

I love the way fat girls take picture of thin celebs and photo shop them to make them look anorexic. Fat girls are so jealous and silly.

Bobbi said...

First I want to say that I really love your blog. I tried to "follow" you, but I can't find the button. I am new at this though so I might just be missing it. If you could let me know how to do it, I would really appreciate that.

Next, I think that even the thought of airbrushing preschool pictures is pretty ridiculous. I love my daughter no matter what and the little bumps, bruises, "flaws", etc. are what make her so unique and build memories. So I'd have to say no, I don't think it's right. Maybe in high school when a teenager can decide for themselves if they want to be airbrushed, but definitely not for preschoolers or even elementary schoolers.

My Own Best Friend said...

Just because it CAN be done doesn't mean you HAVE TO do it.

So what if everyone else is retouching their kids' photos? The one that will hang on your wall is the only one you have to worry about--or answer for.

Someone's opportunity to make money is directly proportional to the degree of our dissatisfaction--with our weight, with our hair color, with our four-year-olds. It's a constant assault.

Andrea said...

I teach junior high/high school, and for our picture day the entire district uses the same photographer, and thus uses the same forms. The options (package numbers, background colors, air-brushing) are all the same. I think that's probably why it was offered at a Pre-K level. We get a stack of 500 forms and hand them out to all the kids, age 3 to seniors. As breeziegirl pointed out, these are just for small blemishes, and I can't see why a pre-k parent would NEED the option, but it's there for everyone (for an extra charge, might I add...always a way to make a buck).

anewday said...

I think it would be OK for a portrait type photo. Sometimes if the lighting isn't great the touch-up or airbrush can be more what they really look like in good lighting. School pics usually aren't well done to begin with as they do hundreds in a day. I blog on weight management almost every day for those who are serious about it.

Signe said...

waaa?! Thats so sick!

luapimoan said...

I think this is awful. What is a child to think if even his/her own parents want to better their appearance? I can understand why a parent may make this decision without thinking too deeply about the effects - but these effects could be worse than ever imagined. I suspect any parent would live a life-time of regret if they felt they played a part in contributing to a child's unhapiness.Having said that, I am not saying it shouldn't be done, just that it should be considered carefully. It may depend on the extent of the airbrushing.Also - I must admit I wouldn't have minded having some done on photos of me!! But making that decicion yourself is a quite different thing from having it being made for you...