Thursday, 16th October, 2014
By Erica Visser
A kindergarten student was left in tears and her mother furious after a birthmark on the girl’s neck was photoshopped out of her school pictures without permission.
Six-year-old Burke Ward student Mahli Guise had been brought up by her mother, Kendi Simmons, to be proud of the large birthmark.
But when Mahli brought her school photos home on Tuesday, the defining characteristic was notably absent on all but one original copy.
The company responsible, Academy School Photography and Production, appeared to have digitally edited the image.
Ms Simmons said she was appalled upon seeing the photoshopped pictures and the effect these had on her daughter.
“I was really overwhelmed. We’ve always told Mahli the birthmark is her beauty spot,” she said yesterday.
“It’s saddening that somebody who we don’t know sat behind a computer and thought ‘We’ll get rid of that.’
“Her bow is also a different colour and they’ve removed snot off her face; they’ve had a good go at it.
“I don’t want a perfect photo, I want a photo of my perfect child. It’s her first school photo for primary school and that’s kindergarten gone.”
Ms Simmons said that she never would have given the company permission to edit the appearance of her daughter and would not be giving copies of the photographs to family and friends.
“We feel a bit ripped off really. I won’t be buying school photos next year.”
Ms Simmons and her partner were also concerned about the long-lasting impact the image would have on Mahli’s self-esteem.
“We’re very concerned about what that’s doing to her body image. When she’s 18 how is she going to feel when she looks at that photo and she still has the birthmark but the photo doesn’t?
“Why instill in a six-year-old that she needs to have a complex about what she looks like?
“She’s not doing a fashion shoot for Cosmopolitan magazine, she’s having her photo taken for the family album.”
Ms Simmons and her mother-in-law, Tracey Broadbere, were now on the hunt for answers.
“They need to answer for it, it’s not acceptable,” said Ms Broadbere.
“Is it common protocol to photoshop pictures of kids without permission?”
The BDT yesterday approached the photography company for comment.