To my daughters:
It sounds cliche to say but it really is true that beauty exists inside and out. You ARE beautiful and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. So when I got the order forms for this year’s school pictures they caught me by surprise. In addition to picking backgrounds and borders and colors and textures there was a new item this year. For an extra fee, I could have your photos professionally retouched. God forbid you should look like you actually do in elementary school. For an extra fee, I could get “premium retouching” to whiten your teeth, or to even out your skin complexion, or to remove blemishes and scars. The order forms then had photos of a child model to show me exactly how I could improve your appearance if I wanted to spend the money. There was an asterisk underneath with an urgent warning though: premium retouching wouldn’t be able to help with your braces or moles or glare from your glasses. So I could remove your acne if you had it, and make your skin tone better if you wanted, but you are on your own with the moles.
I guess this whole thing is our own fault. Call it the instagram effect. We take so many photos, so frequently, that we’ve all become accustomed to deleting the pictures we don’t like and reshooting them. We can edit and tweak and color correct every single image and we expect our smart phones to be able to do it within seconds, so why would our class photos be any different? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because these kids are still in school. They are still growing up. Their emotions are still developing. Their character is still developing. And if we sit there and professionally retouch every class photo, we’re telling our kids that they’re not good enough as they are. They’re not pretty enough as they are. They’re not enough. And that’s a crappy message to be sending.
So girls I’m sorry, but I declined the “professional retouching” and just picked the basic package. One day you might hate me and these photos because your teeth didn’t look white enough, your skin wasn’t perfect enough, and you could still see that scar from where you got stitches in preschool. To my eight year old: I love that little scar and the little mole you have above your lip. To my five year old: I love your complexion and your smile even if you might need braces one day. Remember, it sounds cliche to say but it really is true that beauty exists inside and out. You ARE beautiful and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
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