“When picture day arrived last fall at St. Mary’s School in Walnut Creek, Calif., pre-kindergartner Isabella Forrest had an outbreak of red, flaky eczema on her cheeks.
When it came time to order prints, the 4-year-old’s mother, Carla, was relieved to see a retouching option.
“All I could say was, ‘Yay,’ ” Carla recalls. “I don’t want her to look back when she’s older and be, like, ‘Mom, why didn’t you do something about my face?’ I want people to see her, not her skin condition.”
For decades, portrait companies have offered retouching at the high school level. However, for the past five years, the service has expanded to parents of the K-5 set, and they’re using it to erase everything from cowlicks to imperfections caused by accidents” (Detroit Free Press).
But what about that little piece of hair that’s out of place?
What about a booger that might be in a nostril (gross, but happens!).
What about the red birth mark, the freckles or OH NO a ZIT!!!!
Some parents say that “children’s self-esteem is critical, and if you’re going to alter their looks, that’s truly a parent’s decision.”
Others argue that this “my child should be perfect” attitude has much larger ramifications. In a culture of small waists are more beautiful, when do we draw the line on air-brushing? (see my post on air-brushing)
I have a confession.
When I first started blogging I had been tempted a few times to take out flaws from photos I was putting online. My son had eczema, my daughter has a red mark on her cheek, I have had plenty of skin imperfections and so has my husband. There have been times that I thought, oh what’s the biggie if I make us look better? Well, because it’s a lie. We are not perfect – not even close. So why make it seem that way? What message does this send to our children if we cannot stand back and appreciate who they are and love them for them enough to appreciate the beauty of imperfection?
I know it is a struggle. When our E had such severe eczema at two years of age, he was little but big enough to bury his red little baby face into my shoulder while holding him because he was embarrassed that people were talking about him and his skin. He was just two.
We want our kids to feel happy with themselves and excited to share their school photos with people right? Well then it seems to me that the only way to really do this is to embrace our imperfections and those around us by saying ” I will not re-touch your photo because it’s YOU. And YOU are beautiful and amazing…
“I love you with scrapes.
I love you with eczema.
I love you with a booger in your nose.
I love you with freckles, a tan and even when your pale.
I love you with pimples
and I love you when your skin looks nice.
I love everything about you all of the time.
I love you unconditionally.”
Life is not perfect. We are not perfect. But celebrating our inner beauty is one of life’s most wonderful joys. I want my children to love and respect themselves and by retouching pictures so a child’s self esteem is not impaired, I believe will do more damage in the long run. I really feel so strongly that in order for kids to grow up feeling empowered and confident – they need to know that they are loved for who they are…their imperfect little selves.
What’s your take on this? Do you think this “service” (or disservice), should be offered to parents of school-aged children? You can disagree with me – I just want to hear what you think about it! Do share! We all have our own opinions!