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Parents outraged over school photo 'retouching'

The Local · 5 Oct 2012, 13:38

Published: 05 Oct 2012 13:38 GMT+02:00

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“This is sick in my world, because it involves young children,” said mother of two Monica Vial to the Dagens Nyheter newspaper (DN).

Vial responded to a school photo company in Östersund that offered photo editing on school portraits, including the removal of cold sores, running noses or black eyes.

“It’s hard to do something about it in such a small town. People are scared to stick out. Many people react with silence and on Facebook,” she said.

She explained that such “retouching” works against the fight to stop children being influenced by the stereotypical ideals of beauty.

One of the photographers from the company, Anna Wilhelmsson, explained that there has been a “storm of criticism” from parents following the blemish removal service, something that may lead to a reconsideration of how the company advertises.

“Retouching is a loaded word, and we perhaps should rephrase it. The debate about retouching is important,” she told TV4.

Meanwhile, Johan Främst, head of the Swedish Picture Suppliers Association (Bildleverantörernas förening – BLF), considers there to be a distinct line between retouching and outright removing.

“In portrait photography people have always tried to get a nice and soft complexion, but not in the aim of getting rid of something,” he told DN.

“If I have a birthmark then it’s a part of me. If a child has a birthmark and a photographer thinks ‘I’ll remove that’ then it can become offensive.”

This is not the first time a “retouching” service has hit a Swedish school.

Story continues below…

In Luleå in 2009, a photo company came under fire for removing a scar from the face of a three-year-old girl, leaving her father enraged.

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Your comments about this article

14:28 October 5, 2012 by texaslass
Hey, its cheaper than plastic surgery!

But, seriously, I cannot believe a photographer would think this apropos for such young children. And changing the word from 'retouching' to whatever does not change the fact that it is still retouching!

As if adolescence is not already rife with insecurities - let alone allowing some stranger to point out the kid's supposed "flaws".
14:51 October 5, 2012 by storstark
hmmm... in 1981 i had a cold sore on school photo day... no, it was worse than a cold sore because my mother used gentian violet to dry it up and heal it, so i actually had this big huge purple scab on the corner of my lip...

i put on this awful lop-sided smile to try and cover as much as possible... it didn't work, the photo came out with me in this strange smile with a big purple scab in the corner of my mouth...

of course school photos were a big investment too, and you got ten copies of the one photo in various sizes... and there was a family one taken of me and my sisters given out to extended family...

let's be honest here, i would have swapped all my marbles and my Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox to be able to have that cold sore removed from that photo...

not sure what the big reaction is about, you will never convince a 7+ year old kid that their cold sore is cute, endearing or normal, and the bad luck of having one on photo day shouldn't have to haunt the kid if it's avoidable...

removing something that's permanent (a scar, or changing one's nose) is of course shallow and vulgar at best... then they might look at replacing the kids with better looking kids... or removing all the girls from the class photos (right, IKEA?)...
15:52 October 5, 2012 by Firmino
People are way too sensitive. What is the problem with retouching a photo to eliminate red eye or an unsightly spot?
16:12 October 5, 2012 by Brianito
It's only a retouch not a complete "glamour" overhaul of the image to put it on the front cover of a magazine. I take a lot of photos and you can be sure that if I spot red-eye or shiny skin on the subject I try and correct it. I just do it and say nothing about retouching it. Then when the person sees it, they never notice it. It's not a "glamour" photo of a model, just a good old portrait. Click! Click!
16:52 October 5, 2012 by occassional
There are a few ugly ducklings around though eh. Saw a pubescent girl with fiery pimples, a mono brow and clock-spring-like nasal hair the other day, I almost fell off my bicycle. I mean to say! Some faces make onions cry. Retouch their pictures is the least the school could do. I'd give their parents a slap for their inconsiderate feckless fecundity.
19:05 October 5, 2012 by Ulvenkai
Move along, nothing to see here... Just a bunch of people with nothing better to do in their lives getting bent out of proportion.

What absolute nonsense.

Perhaps students/parents should simply be able to opt out of having their photos retouched.

Who wants to be remembered with a massive zit on their forehead, a fever blister on their lip or some other garish nightmare on their faces? A very small (and clearly insecure and vocal) minority.

"Stereotypical ideas of beauty" my hairy arse. It's called looking decent and not having a humiliating (and expensive) picture to remember your school and formative years. Keep those for the family album.
10:59 October 6, 2012 by Abe L
Yea.. you must have really solved all other problems in life in order to have spare time to make a big deal out of this. It is horrible for a kid to end looking silly or just not in the right way on a school picture and end-up getting teased with it. So this makes perfect sense, there is also absolutely nothing wrong with partly trying to live up to "stereotypical ideals of beauty".

If this service is offered and only used after agreement with the parents in order to deliver nice looking photos, something a person can benefit from their entire life, this should instead only be encouraged.
13:44 October 6, 2012 by prince T
Why am i not suprised that this is happening in sweden. We are who we are and nothing can change that. We are living in an age where pple are being encouraged to accept who they are and be proud of their bodies. Sweden is still engrossed in PERFECT society. Many cases of norexia, suicides and so on is prevalent among teenagers. Sweden is no 6 in the world among teenage suicide rates. I will try and quote the psycholigy magazine i got it from later. The thot of stamping insecurities in the heart of thse children at dat young age in the name of looking perfect is criminal. Birth marks, fat black or white is who u are and u cannot change it. U can use face surgery to change your face from 40 to 20 but ur bones will always be 40. Stop this deception.
08:31 October 7, 2012 by smilingjack
monday morning when your out and about try a spot a single woman that doesnt have $50 worth of foundation on covering her entire face. Im even noticing little girls around 12 who have this stuff on. what is going on with girl? foundation and makeup from 12. push up and padded bras are standard. what happens when you finally meet someone and get naked and have to take off the fake face and reveal the real boobs?
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