Recently I have been seeing something that has been ruffling my feathers a little bit. “You know what really grinds my gears?” as Peter would say.
First, let me start out by saying that I am not a parent. Therefore everything I am about to say is just an opinion and you should take it with a grain of salt. I am also in no way telling you how you should parent. Only you know what is best for your child and I would never pretend to know what is best for anyone’s child. However, I do implore you to give my words a bit of thought.
The thing that has really gotten to me lately are pictures of children with filters applied to them. I don’t mean the silly dog ears or bunny ears, those are fun and silly and serve for a laugh. What I am talking about is so called “beauty” filters.
First, “beauty” filters, the ones that look like your lens suddenly got fogged up before the picture. To me it looks like the skin on your face is stretched too tight due to bloating, or someone painted your face in with pastels, but what do I know? They make your skin “smooth” and “glow” but just ends up looking ugly. Sorry, but it looks terrible for an adult, and especially for a child. No one looks good like that. No one.
But even if you choose to dismiss that first point, try to consider my second, which is that the idea of those filters is to have the appearance of smoother skin to rid you of age marks, and children do not need that. Think about it really hard. If you are trying to make a three year old’s skin look younger… Get it?
More importantly, though, is posterity. If you think about just some twenty years ago, documenting a child’s life was a difficult task. Today we do not have the same constraints, what with a camera literally in our pocket every single minute of every day. Yet you are going to take a photo and alter that child’s appearance?
If you do not understand what I mean, think of it like this: Say you suddenly lose every photo of your child except one. Now they are 18 years old and going off to college, 30 years old and getting married, etc. and you have one last surviving picture of their childhood. That would be a keepsake to cherish. Now imagine if that one surviving photo had been altered with a filter. Trust me, when it matters most, that is not the photo that you want to see, just take my word for it. That is also not the photo that they want to see, nor your family in 40 years. Even the aforementioned bunny ear filters should be used sparingly. At the very least, keep the original photo along side the altered one.
On the flip side… you could hire a profession photographer and get images that will certainly stand the test of time and you will be proud of for the rest of your life. If only there was someone like that around somewhere. Hmmmmm…. If only.
Perhaps the thing that bothers me the most about all of these filters being applied to children’s photos is the message that is being sent directly or indirectly. The message can be seen as either, “You are too ugly, you need this filter to look beautiful,” or, “This is what beauty is. This filter here.” Of course you are not trying to say that to your child. But that does not mean they are not understanding it as such.
To me these filters are just not worth it in the long run. Again, I am not a parent, but it still bothers me to see children taught that artificiality is beautiful. Kids get bumps and bruises, kids lose teeth, and some kids take a bit to grow into their ears. But kids are beautiful because they are kids. Cherish those funky pictures they will be embarrassed to show their first boyfriend. Cherish that time your little boy took a spill riding his bike and scraped his chin the day before the family picnic. These are the happy little accidents we want to remember. We want to remember that we looked a little funny, a little unkempt, a little different. After all, that was us. That was you, that was me, and every child before us. Let the kid look funny. That’s just beauty in progress.