Student claims school photoshopped her face to make her appear thinner

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

An all girls high school student claims that her yearbook photo was heavily altered by the photo agency hired by the school. The story first emerged out of a Reddit post, and has since spread across the web.

In the Reddit post, the student wrote that every senior received a new student ID last week, each with the same photo to be used in their class yearbook. Since they had already received an ID earlier that year, they were unsure why they were given a second. However, when students began comparing the new IDs to their originals, they noticed some big changes in the photos.

"After closer inspection we realized that our photos had be retouched far past smoothing out blemishes," wrote the student.


The untouched photo, left, next to the new photo, right.

The student claimed that the side-by-side comparison of the two photos showed evidence of face smoothing, skin recoloring, lip coloring, eyebrow smoothing and reshaping and face thinning.

"I was outraged! I have a round face that I have grown to love and now I get my photo back with a different face," the student wrote on the Reddit post.

According to the student, the photography agency hired to take the yearbook photos made the alterations without notifying the school.

In the original Reddit post, the student had remarked that the all girls school focuses heavily on instilling positive body image and acceptance, though questioned the school's sincerity after seeing the photos. However, after the school's response, the student said she feels even more convinced of the school's integrity.

The student said that the high school has decided to go ahead with the untouched photos, and that the teacher in charge of yearbook photos was "outraged" upon discovering the alterations.

"My school has proved that they are fully behind positive body image by printing the untouched photos. I am proud of my school and what they stand for," wrote the student.

Responding to the student's story, Reddit user Greatfreedom -- who claimed to have worked for photo agencies in the past, but not the one in question -- said a large part of his job was altering school yearbook images just as seen here:

"The sheer number of people not happy with their own photos and who requested changes when they were offered meant we got into the workflow of fixing the same common things on every pic. Student had a zit? taken out. Jaws flared? smoothed them down. Female student with visible facial hair? we'd take it back to skin tone. Fifteen and sixteen year olds with wrinkles and bags under their eyes? Also removed all as a matter of course."

Greatfreedom claimed that photoshopping all the students became routine to avoid fewer complaints and change requests. Though he said he enjoyed the work, he felt uncomfortable doing it.

"I'm sorry this still happens. It's sometimes hard to tell who wants what done. Should there be no editing at all? I don't know I ever had a student not ask for a giant quarter-inch wide zit scab removed, but some were fine with obvious long-term acne scars because they considered them part of their personality.

Drawing a line is one thing but the artist prepping those photos likely had a couple of minutes on each image and most of it was edited without much conscious thought."