From the age of about .01, little girls are praised for their beauty. People call out their eyes, their hair, their "rosebud lips." They do the same for baby boys, but not in the same way. And by age 2 or so, it's all they say. Even my own kids know it. My daughter is "beautiful," she says, but my son is not.
"Boys can't be 'beautiful,'" my 3.5-year-old tells me all the time.
So I can understand why the mother of a preschooler is furious over the airbrushing of a nursery school photo that eliminated her 2-year-old daughter's port-wine stain birthmark in the middle of her face. The birthmark is large, but her mother doesn't think it makes her daughter any less beautiful. And she's right.
Though the photographer says a clerical error caused the mix-up and has apologized profusely, the mother remains unconvinced. She says:
Where does it stop? If one of the kids had wonky teeth, would he have altered them to make them 'perfect'? It’s not up to him to play God. There are enough worries about the prejudices she may endure later in life without having to worry about adult male photographers, especially when she’s just two years old.
She has a point. Even if he didn't mean to do so, he sent a message to the little girl that she wasn't lovely enough on her own, that she needed to be altered to conform. It isn't a small mistake.
Omnee (the little girl) is lucky to have a mother who will go to bat for her. As a mom, my guess is I would have a birthmark on my child removed and maybe I should be ashamed to say that. Maybe it's society that needs to change and not the little girl who only wanted a nursery school photo.
Looking at both photos on the Daily Mail site, the birthmark doesn't make Omnee any less lovely. Her mother is right. And the way we come to accept that isn't going to be through airbrushing. It's through looking at the truth and accepting that. This little girl was born with a bit of red splotching on her face and she is still beautiful. That is the end of the story.
Would you be angry if you were the mom?
Image via aussiegall/Flickr