‘What the hell?!’ Mom sparks debate over ‘retouching service’ for school pictures that wipes away freckles


It doesn’t take much to get some folks worked up these days, especially when it comes to their children.

While there’s plenty to be concerned about in public schools, much of it coming from those tasked with looking out for the best interests of students in their charge, an issue involving school photos has a Maryland mom up in arms.

Jennifer Greene is upset over a $12 upcharge for portrait “retouching” services offered by photography company Lifetouch, which took a photo of her 12-year-old daughter, Madeline. When Greene opened the seventh grader’s school-picture package, she saw a premium offer included for teeth whitening, skin-tone evening and blemish removal and “freaked,” according to the New York Post.

Turns out, Greene was not upset over the extra fee, but the service itself, saying she does not want her daughter to feel pressured into looking picture-perfect, the paper reported.

“I was shocked,” she told The Post. “I completely disagree with [retouching a child’s school picture], because it’s teaching kids that they need to look perfect all the time and that they can change [a perceived flaw] with the click of a mouse.”

The article went on to note that the option to retouch school portraits isn’t new, it’s now “being offered to students as young as pre-K and are becoming as ubiquitous as face-altering filters on social media, which have triggered a spike in anxiety and depression in teen girls.”

Greene took to Twitter last month to express her angst, tagging the photography company in a tweet: “I’m going to need someone to explain to me why @Lifetouch offers PHOTO RETOUCH for KIDS school pics?! What the hell?!”

She included the hashtag #parenting in the tweet, as seen above, but said she never received a response from Lifetouch.

In a statement to The Post, Lifetouch said, “Our goal is always to authentically capture each child we photograph. Photo retouch is an entirely opt-in service that customers choose to add on to photo packages. Most, if not all, school photography companies offer this service and it’s an expectation as an available option for schools.”


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The key phrase here is “opt-in service,” as in optional; at the parent’s choosing. As the company noted, it’s an expected service as many parents do want that “perfect” photograph, and photography companies that don’t offer it are at a significant competitive disadvantage.

In responding to a social media user who pointed out that this was optional, Greene replied: “I have never seen it offered, so I was very taken aback. And while I do understand the don’t purchase mentality, photo retouching shouldn’t be an option for kids. IMO.”

Here’s a quick sampling of other responses to the story from Twitter:

Kristin Loerns, a parent in Tampa, Fla., was featured in the Post article taking exception to her son Kieran’s “adorable freckles” being brushed away in his school photos last November.

“I gave permission for ‘basic retouching,’ which would be removing blemishes, and they removed all of his freckles instead,” the 36-year-old blogger and photographer said. After complaining to Lifetouch about the situation, the company reportedly resent the pictures with the freckles right back where they reside in reality.

There were some in social media who sided with the parents, as seen here:


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