An all-girls high school student claims that her yearbook photo has been heavily altered to change her face in the name of "beautification." Apparently, removal of blemishes like zits is normal practice nowadays, but this goes way beyond that, with face thinning, eyebrow reshaping, and skin recoloring.

I go to an all girls high school and today every senior got a new student ID. We had gotten one in the beginning of the school year and we were all unsure as to why we were given a second. After closer inspection we realized that our photos had be retouched far past smoothing out blemishes. Here is a list of changes made in my photo:

  • face smoothing
  • skin recoloring
  • lip recoloring
  • eyebrow smoothing and reshaping
  • 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 new photo no longer even looks like me but rather a prettier twin sister. When we go and have our photos taken we are flat out told that our skin will be retouched to hide blemishes. We are not told, however, that more drastic changes are made.

Going to an all girls school we are constantly reminded about positive body image and accepting ourselves for who we are. Having these changes made to make me appear thinner makes me wonder how must our school practices what they preach.

Here is a comparison of the two photos. The left is untouched and the right is the new photo.

The change is dramatic. You can see some features of the girl in the second face, but it would be hard to recognize her as the same person. Perhaps her sister!

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This Photoshop job would take five minutes to any Photoshop operator working in the countless photography studios that create these yearbooks nationwide. It's a big business and they want to keep students happy to keep doing more yearbooks every year. Thanks to the power of Photoshop and the cult for certain beauty standards, they can do just that. As a reddit commenter who claims he "started [his] graphic work doing yearbook photo cleanups among other things," this has been going on for a long time:

This was back in the day when everything was scanned from negatives or prints and fixing scans was part & parcel of cleaning - reflections, hairs, spots on photos etc.

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.

And when we were editing ten classes worth of photos before lunch, it was part of the process, and we'd homogenize everyone for fewer complaints or unique change requests after proofs.

I didn't like it at the time, and after I finished up a year and a half work on a later job editing magazine photographs which required changes like removing knuckles on womens' hands but highlighting them on men, I couldn't go back and haven't. It was great fun work but didn't sit right in my gut.

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.

That process should change. I hope if you do complain to the relevant people you're listened to. A predefined maximum amount of editing should be something the subject gets to define beforehand.

I can understand removing a zit myself, but doing this is way too much. This face thinning, skin recoloring, eyebrow shaping crap has to stop. This Photoshop craze that has taken all over the world, from magazines to yearbooks to even family photos has to stop.

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What's the point? Do we really want to keep photos of a version of ourselves that never existed? I can't see any point to it but to add to support with fake proof our already misleading sense of nostalgia. It's the saddest thing and I'm glad this person is coming out to denounce it.


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