A MUM was left fuming after a school photographer “erased” her son’s hearing aids by retouching the portrait.
Whitney Rose, a US mum-of-two from Utah, said her three-year-old son’s hearing aids appeared to have been “softened” out of his school photo.
“When we got the pictures, I saw them and I was like, ‘OK, cute picture, but where’s his hearing aids?’” Whitney told Fox News.
Whitney, whose two children and husband are deaf, runs a TikTok and an Instagram advocating for the deaf community.
When she saw the proof of her son’s school photo, Whitney posted a video comparing a “normal” photo of her son, where his hearing aids are visible, and his school photo, where his hearing aids are difficult to see.
Whitney told Fox News that at first, she thought maybe it was the “cheap piece of paper” that her son’s photo proof was on.
Then, she considered it could have been a lighting issue, or maybe the photography company had used an editing tool that made the hearing aids more difficult to see.
“It almost looked like they had used a skin softening and a brightening tool or something,” Whitney said.
“And that because his hearing aids were an orange colour, that it erased them.”
She said she thought, “Maybe I’m overreacting.” But as she talked with more people, including her husband and her son’s deaf mentor, they all agreed the school photo appeared to have edited her son’s hearing aids.
“He’s had hearing aids since he was two months old and we spend all day every day making sure that he feels proud of the hearing aids, that he knows that they’re not something to be ashamed of,” Whitney said.
“For somebody to take [them] away … it’s hurtful.”
Whitney said she reached out to the photography company, Bell Photographers, and asked what happened to her son’s hearing aids.
According to Whitney, the company said they did not edit the photo and denied that there were any lighting issues or that they had used a skin softening tool on his photo.
Bell Photographers did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
The company did send Whitney a digital proof, which said was “a little better”.
“But it still seems like they’ve flushed them out,” she added.
She said that she decided not to buy the photos, but she still thinks about the effect the photo could have on her son as he gets older.
He’s had hearing aids since he was two months old and we spend all day every day making sure that he feels proud of the hearing aids, that he knows that they’re not something to be ashamed of
“At some point … when he’s getting old enough to where asks me, ‘Why aren’t my hearing aids in that photo?’ What am I supposed to tell him?” she said.
“It’s just upsetting, hurtful.”
Psychologist and co-author of Conquer Negative Thinking for Teens: A Workbook to Break the Nine Thought Habits That Are Holding You Back, Dr Mary Alvord, told Fox News that she doesn’t have “firm research” on the topic but generally, “it is important for us to have accurate photos of kids and people in general”.
“Kids grow up with a distorted view of what celebrities, who have major touch-ups, really look like,” Dr Alvord wrote in an email.
“This feeds into kids and teens having unrealistic expectations of what they and others should look like. This can affect mental health, thinking they should have ‘perfect’ skin, ‘perfect’ facial features, ‘perfect’ body, etc.”
However, there are some instances where it might be OK to retouch a school photo, she added.
“On the other hand, kids and teens, say with temporary acne, might welcome a touched up picture that doesn’t accentuate what they look like that particular day – for all the upcoming years to remember,” Dr Alvord said.
This article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission
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