Jodi - posted on 03/28/2011 ( 40 moms have responded )
Parents of children as young as five are being offered airbrushed school portraits to remove unsightly blemishes such as cuts and acne.
Fotoworks, one of the biggest school photography businesses in WA, is offering parents the opportunity to have their child's portrait "retouched" to remove minor imperfections, for an extra $15.
The company photographs 100,000 pupils of all ages a year across WA.
Child psychologists have branded the move as "loony" and a possible contributor to psychological problems later in life.
Leading Australian psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said it was a "dreadful idea" that helped feed society's obsession with perfection in terms of body image.
"What this is saying to kids is that there's something wrong with them," Dr Carr-Gregg said. "We should be loving our children unconditionally - not based on what they look like."
But a spokesman for Fotoworks said the company was not doing anything wrong. He said the airbrushing only corrected minor skin issues and the company did not enhance photographs to remove braces or add missing teeth, for example.
"It's mainly for pimples or other marks," he said. "We leave it up to the parents and it's a very minimal thing that we do."
He said only a handful of parents each year chose the option.
Fotoworks photographers made every effort to fix imperfections during the photo shoot, such as asking children to face a different way or getting them to smile without showing their braces. "We would rather fix these things in camera than we would post-camera with photoshop and things like that," he said.
University of WA psychology professor Sue Byrne said airbrushing children was "ridiculous" and sent the wrong message to them about their bodies.
"It's saying we should buy into the media hype about the supposedly ideal body image - and from primary school," she said. "The last two Mission Australia surveys have found body image is the number one concern among young people, and this sort of thing doesn't help, especially at such a young age."
Other school photography businesses contacted by _The West Australian _did not offer the service, although some said they would consider correcting minor blemishes if a parent requested it.
MSP Photography franchisee Eli Greatley said he had always refused requests to alter pictures. "School photos are supposed to capture you as you are," he said.
How do you feel about this? Would you prefer school photos of your kids showing warts and all, or something that has been *airbrushed* to perfection?