Perfect pictures taken to unnecessary level

The Southerner

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As a seven-year veteran of teaching at Grady, I was surprised and excited to find out I would be teaching a couple of freshman English courses. It promises to be a great experience!

Part of the experience is learning that English teachers are asked to share important school information with their students.  This makes sense, as every student is required to take English. One bit of information I have been asked to distribute is the school picture order form. As I looked over the form, I saw in the bottom right-hand corner that students can choose the “retouching level” of their photo.

Wait. Really?

I find this option to be wrong on so many levels. There are so many students who already have self-esteem issues, and this option solidifies expectations that perhaps can’t and, more importantly, shouldn’t be showcased at school.

Encouraging students to change their appearance as a common option is disturbing.  This type of action feeds in to so many social ills.  Students can choose to look like what they are not, if the pictures on the order form are such an indication. They create a perfect persona.

If this is such a good idea, why not extend it? I mean, why not just have emoticons chosen by students? Then we wouldn’t have to miss class time at all, and we can guess whether or not they really do look like a mushroom or Hello Kitty.

At a time when major fashion magazines are announcing they will do less and less retouching if their models so that they reflect “actual” people and when Rupert Murdoch and his conglomerate of media outlets are chastised and fined for too much of this practice, it seems antithetical to encourage the practice.

There are men and women who take “looking great” to dangerous extremes and as a result turn to drugs, participate in habits that lead to eating disorders and other —sometimes fatal— practices.  I don’t think we should encourage this type of behavior here at Grady.

Yes, it can be argued that people will know the difference and that technology applications such as these are simply the way things are. That technology leads to the ability to make choices. I am stating unequivocally that this is a false choice as nothing positive comes from it.

The actual healthy option is to be OK with who and what we are. If we aren’t, we should make changes in healthy ways, not ways that deceive both audience and individual.

I hope in the future this option is no longer available to students and we can all just be who we are, naturally.  I understand that our yearbook staff works diligently and gives their heart and soul to a publication that is often under-appreciated. The product they produce is something to be proud of and to treasure. If the pictures of students in a yearbook are golden, I hope that future yearbooks are not full of fool’s gold.


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