‘Enhancing’ school pictures becoming new norm?

Local mom concerned about implications of offering 'image enhancements' for student school photos

This building houses Dorian Photo Studio in Portland, Sept. 17, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
This building houses Dorian Photo Studio in Portland, Sept. 17, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — School pictures have been around for decades, but eliminating imperfections from those photos is a more recent development.

One mother contacted KOIN 6 News concerned about the implications of offering “image enhancements” for her child’s school pictures at Beverly Cleary Elementary School.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, said the options to smooth out skin or whiten teeth were too much.

“Love them the way they are!” she wrote in an email to KOIN 6 News.

Portland Child Counselor Jeff Guenther spoke about how enhancing school pictures may be sending the wrong message to children.

“Well the risks are that you could possibly be giving your child poor self-image or body-image or self-esteem issues, especially if they already have some lower self-esteem issues,” he said.

Guenther said middle school students struggle with everything from acne to changing body image and the best approach for a parent to take is to empathize with their situation.

“You would normalize it. You would say or tell them you struggled with body image or you had zits or you felt awkward at that age because everybody feels awkward at that age,” said Guenther.

Chelsie Vega is only five weeks into motherhood, but said there will never be any image enhanced school photos in her house.

She spoke about the type of message these photos could send middle school students.

“I think it is telling the kids they’re not enough. That they have imperfections that need to be hidden from the world,” said Vega.

Dorian Photography is one of Portland Public School’s picture specialists, offering the image enhancements.

The studio’s manager said they only offer them as an option because it has become an industry standard in school pictures. The trend, the manager said, has been driven by the fact that so many parents request it.

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