Overly edited senior pictures obscure reality
There’s one rite of passage only seniors have the privilege to taste. It’s their 15 minutes of fame, their one glimpse of stardom: their senior photo session. For those few, fleeting minutes, we’re the model, the Jennifer Lopez, the Channing Tatum. We’re the center of attention, the focal point in the camera. Senior pictures are all about seniors.
Or, at least, they used to be.
There was a time when senior pictures were meant to describe a senior’s story, show off how he/she has grown, depict his/her personality and the monumental achievement of graduation. There was a time when it didn’t matter so much if a lock of hair was astray. The senior was smiling; she was enjoying herself, and, therefore, she was beautiful. Pictures were real.
But our culture has embraced the “Age of Editing.” No longer is it acceptable for girls and boys to have flaws; Photoshop has made sure of that. A pimple is a disaster, and normal irises are a disgrace. Eyes must be edited to pop off the screen, exploding with color. Skin must be porcelain. Fat must be invisible. Natural backgrounds are ridiculous; instead, lights must be shifted; hues must be changed, and everything must scream intensity.
A senior’s face — the face seen and beloved by friends and family, each and every day — is lost in what is, quite plainly, fake.
There’s no longer any story behind the photo, no message to praise a hard-working graduate. Instead, we have something no better than a heavily-edited supermodel on the cover of Cosmopolitan.
It’s not a message that should be sent to teens. We are bombarded with images of sex, beauty and power, emphasized by stunning skin and impossibly luscious hair. Reality just isn’t like that, and the edited picture only makes self-consciousness and insecurity skyrocket.
Seniors should feel comfortable in their own skin, should walk happily into a photo shoot without having to worry if the photographer will “make them look good.” A senior picture should be the student, not his/her airbrushed double.
This is not a bashing of certain photography companies or people who like the artistic side of photo-editing. It’s instead a warning for those who fear they’re too ugly, too big or too plain to be a model. Senior pictures aren’t about impressing the crowd. They aren’t about getting a date. They aren’t about sex or clothing, perfect complexion or curled hair.
They’re about the grinning graduate in the cap and gown, with the lingering effects of senioritis strewn about their room. They’re about the last few months with lifetime friends, before diverging paths cause separation. They’re about symbolizing the last days of childhood, the last days spent cheering at assemblies, gorging on bake sales and shouting “Go Bruins!”
Plain and simply, they’re about you.
By Lauren Puckett
This opinion piece is labeled as such on the desktop version.