A couple of weeks ago a friend on facebook commented that her son had woken up on the day of his kindergarten photo with a big scratch on his nose. I commented that he had years ahead of him filled with awkward and awful school photos, and that she should celebrate his boyishness. I'm sure he was gorgeous in his photo. Other people responded saying you can tick a box on the form and it can be photoshopped out. This blew my mind.
I have to say I find it a little sad that people want to photoshop their memories. My kinder photo is a trainwreck. In my individual shot I have a spot in the middle of my forehead and chin. A mosquito bite perhaps or maybe I walked into something and cut my head. Who knows? I was a kid. The group photo is a classic. I'm sat down with my knees apart and the only word that springs to mind is 'gusset'. Insert *facepalm* here. Thank goodness I was wearing thick tights. I have a long history of crap school photos. Primary school: awkward growth patterns, pre-braces buck teeth, hair cuts probably done by my Mum and puppy fat. High school: socially awkward, braces, bad make up, pimples, disastrous perms (hey, it was the 80s ok) until it began to change around year 12. In year 12 I can see the beginnings of the person I am now.
As I grow older I can look back and see different things in these embarrassing photos. And yes, I'm also quite glad that there is more distance between me and the hair atrocities of those few teenage years. But those photos represent who I was at the time. The idea of life is to grow and evolve and change. I can look back and see the road that has lead me to today. I can look back and smile, because everyone is the same.
Another friend shared an article from the Herald-Scum...oops, I mean Sun, newspaper. It talked about how more schools were opting for casual photos rather than the formal sitting/standing in rows. When I see the example they discuss, I wonder where the chubby awkward kids are. Where are the kids who are different? It looked like a press photo for Young Talent Time. There were no bookish dorks, just athletes and performers. I have to say, that's not what we looked like in primary school. Where is the crap haircuts, ill fitting clothes and wonky teeth? Maybe things are different now? Maybe the push to be beautiful and perfect begins in primary school.
I find it quite sad, as those kinds of issues have plagued women in particular for years. Our value should be more than skin deep. We should be teaching kids to be thoughtful, inclusive and kind rather than sparkly and perfect. Life is hard enough without that kind of pressure before you've even hit puberty. Beauty should be found in the type of person your child is growing up to be, not in how photogenic they are.