Outrage as School Offers Airbrushing Services for Eight-Year-Old Children, Including Teeth Whitening and Evening of Skin Tones

Outrage as School Offers Airbrushing Services for Eight-Year-Old Children, Including Teeth Whitening and Evening of Skin Tones

A mother has voiced her concerns on Twitter after her eight-year-old child’s annual school photograph included options of “basic and premium retouching” packages. The services offered were blemish removal, evening skin tones, and teeth whitening.

Sam Walker, a radio journalist who previously worked at the BBC in the UK before relocating to Phoenix, Arizona, voiced her concerns online after spotting the options on a school form. Following options for parents to select the sizing of their images and whether they wanted a digital copy, they were presented with retouching packages. Anyone choosing the basic set will see blemishes removed, while the premium bundle goes as far as evening out skin tones and whitening of the child’s teeth.

Posting an image of the form online, Walker’s tweet sparked outrage on the social media site. Many questioned what kind of message it sends to young children, with one claiming she was “worr[ied] what Instagram is doing to kids.” Supernanny Jo Frost responded to the Tweet, writing: “That’s absolutely disgusting!! Yes WTF”

Walker did not disclose the school in question, nor how much the packages cost. She says she made a formal complaint to the school.

Metro US has contacted Sam for further comment. So far, no word back.

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98 Comments

No shortage of outrage out there....what message does it send to the kids? People want to look their best, especially in photographs?

Simon Patterson's picture

Surely if you don't want those services then you simply don't check those items in your order?

Edison Wrzosek's picture

I think you totally missed the point...

Dan Thompson's picture

More stupid PC. Its an option, if you dont want it, dont take it. I commend the Photographer for offering it.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Um, where does political correctness factor into this???

Imagine your 8 year old child sees the photos afterwards and asks mommy or daddy “Why do I look so much better on the picture but not when I look in the mirror?

Like Sam Walker stated, what the hell kind of message is that sending to the child, and how psychologically damaging is it, especially at that young, impressionable age??

And you commend the photographer for offering it???

You should be ashamed of yourself for saying that...

Simon Patterson's picture

I'm tipping you don't have children that age. The appearance of children changes throughout each day, let alone over the days weeks and months it takes between the shoot and the delivery of school photos.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Your responses show a complete lack of awareness of the rampant negative impact such artificially-inflated beauty standards are having on children this young. One doesn’t need to have children to realize this, as even friends who are parents with children this age who are responsible and cognizant of this will tell you this is absurd, as reflected in the backlash on Twitter to this story.

Simon Patterson's picture

Ah I see, you've come here from the Twitter echo chamber which has convinced you that you're so obviously right that anyone who disagrees must be ignorant and unconsidered. There's nothing like a bit of reading combined with a lack of experience to give one such overconfidence in themselves!

I'll leave you to all that.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

I do not partake in "echo chambers", and you making that assumption is also ignorant.

You say "convinced you that you're so obviously right that anyone who disagrees must be ignorant and unconsidered", and yet, here you are, doing exact that which you blindly blame others of doing. Nice.

I have many friends with children, and NOT ONE of them believe this is appropriate in the slightest.

And judging by the amount of commentary out there about this OUTSIDE of the photography blogs condemning this, it would seem I'm not the only one who feels so.

Open your mind a little next time.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Yep, we live in a world where 8year old have to (yes have to) have the newest phone despite parents being broke financially because socially it's immoral parenting if they don't have it! They'll probably be bullied for that and need mental assistance by 18 for the stress imposed by parent who do not follow the lala land trendy what ever the hype is at the moment. It is absolutely absurd how many fail to understand the meaning of that lady's concern.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

I already had a feeling when I first commented here about this that I'd be met by a substantial backlash, given how the majority here seem to feel there's nothing wrong with this...

The attitudes here have shown to be really quite distasteful, disrespectful and disappointing.

At least some people, like yourself, seem to understand this situation for what it is...

Dear Edison.

As soon as you start to photograph people you will realise, that they look different in real life and on photos.

Our brain has nice photoshop inside and automatically evens out everything.

On top of that, our brain sees video of real - moving - people, but photo - static image - of a photo.

chris bryant's picture

I commend the photographer for offering it. Have you seen kids these days? Some are just so ugly.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Now THAT is the most inappropriate, insensitive, and obnoxious comment in this discussion so far, bravo!

chris bryant's picture

Thanks facist morality police.

Tony Tumminello's picture

Lots of outrage on that Twitter thread but the most well-reasoned arguments seem to indicate that these forms are standard for K-12 and have been for quite awhile, rather than specifically targeting younger children for airbrushing/retouching/teeth whitening/whatever. Also as per the original tweet....the service is *optional* so if you're so against having this service done for your kid then just don't use it. Pretty simple.

Rob Mitchell's picture

School photos.
Never ordered any but the group shot. The rest have been invariably shite cashcows for the firm behind the mug they hired to go to the school and press the button.

jonas y's picture

We need a program here, called "This week in stupid."

michaeljinphoto's picture

It's offered, which means it can be declined. If you don't like it, don't buy it... I fail to see what the problem is.

chris bryant's picture

Ooh, gasp, such an outrage, I’m deeply offended.

Meanwhile, the world’s 850,000,000 hungry people are still hungry.

Dennis Williams's picture

And they will continue to be until folks stop breeding like rats. Even indigenous peoples -whose sophistication did not get beyond rubbing two sticks together - knew not to out-breed the food/ resources supply.

chris bryant's picture

Europe throws away perfectly edible food every year that can feed the worlds hungry four times over. There is plenty to go around. Look at the massive populations of China and India. Breeding is a small part of the problem.

Crystal Johnson's picture

So much outrage over something that is optional.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

I don't blame her, it's school pictures, let the kids look like kids. If parents want professional finish, they don't need to spend more money than needed on a 3 minute session from school. School pictures already seem to have some mask/filters applied automatically to smooth skin and sharpen parts of the faces. How unnatural do you want your kids to look? I don't specialize in portraiture, but parents who want good results should really hire a pro.

Logan Cressler's picture

Considering this is up to the parent of the child to choose the level of retouching they would want, I would say it is none of your business how someone elses child wants to look.

Simon Patterson's picture

One reason I wouldn't ask for retouching on school photos is because they're unlikely to do a good job! However, if the next parent wants to take the risk then I think they should not be prevented.

As I rule, I think it's best to let parents be parents and kids be kids and mind our own business when it comes to everyone outside our own close circles.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

I don't quite get why you guys have decided that I think this option should be illegal, removed or what ever goes through your mind. As parents we have purchased school pictures and as my kids got older, they, themselves have asked me why and what happen that they look weird on these photos. In fact my wife purchase and they don't even want to look at them any more.
Yes it's optional, yes I have certainly noticed that option in recent year. But I guaranty you that this extra cost is just a 15 second process by a human to check if the image needs more blur adjustment or may be send the order to another department for possibly some photo shop retouching. In other words, a very large number of parents who take that option will get zero improvement. I just looked at my daughter's pictures from this year and I base my opinion on what I see. They are just playing on fear, the fear that you may be missing on something they create, just like paying for extra insurances on product and find out that that ring in your dryer is not even covered. I don't know if you have ever seen these ads for $12/hour photographers that are a permanent feature in local jobs search. That's what we are talking about, it's all canned from start to end, don't expect real personal service but a lot of automation.
Bottom line if anyone wants their kids pictures to look like a canned product, no problem, but I think that lady likes the charm of imperfection and want to remember her kids the way they are. I don't blame her for not understanding why people want artificial memory of their kids.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

The level of ignorance of the comments being posted here agreeing to the option being available is astonishing...

Let’s forget the fact that the option is indeed just that, an “option”... We live in the social media, Instagram, generation. Children are constantly being bombarded by these sources to try and reach unrealistic and unattainable physical appearances because of crap like this, and many parents will opt for this option without any thought as to the moral corruption this entails...

I’ll re-post my comment to Dan Thompson:

Imagine your 8 year old child sees the photos afterwards and asks mommy or daddy “Why do I look so much better on the picture but not when I look in the mirror?

Like Sam Walker stated, what the hell kind of message is that sending to the child, and how psychologically damaging is it, especially at that young, impressionable age??

This sort of crap should NEVER be offered to children of that age, EVER. It is damaging emotionally and mentally to the child, and parents to do this are recklessly irresponsible, and I totally agree with Sam Walker, and the general views being expressed on the Twitter thread regarding this issue.

Simon Patterson's picture

Like everyone here, you're entitled to your view. But your decision to label the thoughts of those you disagree with as "ignorance" shows an arrogance and disrespect that is in very poor taste.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Sorry, but it is ignorance, to immediately come in proverbially saying “so what’s wrong with this” without taking the time to think about the possible consequences of such an “option” before making statements which in fact are disrespectful to the hardships experienced by children by this very type of situation.

And if my bluntness offends those people, so be it.

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