At the last Student Shout, one of the issues discussed was whether or not to urge the photography company in charge of Bournemouth University graduates’ photos to remove their digital slimming service.
This is not a new matter for the public eye. Last summer, controversy arose when photogaphy company, Success Photography offered customers a similar service along with teeth whitening.
The vote to campaign for its removal was passed but many Students voted against the motion. I have to say that I am a part of that group.
I understand that fat-shaming is one of the societal pressures facing young people today. But I don’t think that taking this slimming service away from people will majorly change anything.
I think that it is important to give people a choice.
Photo enhancing applications are so easy to use and powerful nowadays that taking away the option from the public is not going to stop them from doing it themselves. If they want to have their photos professionally changed then let them.
Success Photography explains that the service is provided because of the graduation gowns are “bulky and unflattering” and that the photo manipulation is merely “making it more fitting to your shape”.
Students responded by ridiculing the claim and accusing the company of taking advantage of people’s lacking self-esteem even when they are in graduation gowns.
But perfection is almost synonymous with the idea of a photograph. This is why people have built careers around perfecting and staging a photo set and why Adobe has made a fortune from Photoshop.
A photo is the closest we can have to freezing a moment and we want that representation of that moment to be as perfect as possible.
This point is more relevant in the case of a photo that marks a milestone such as a graduation. A graduation photo is one that will resurface throughout your life.
It will probably be a staple in your parents’ trove of pictures to show your relatives. It is symbolic of the culmination of all your hard work and marks an important transitional stage of your life and you should have a say in how it looks.
I am not saying that looking slimmer will make you look closer to being ‘perfect’ but if that is something that you want to do, then the option should not be taken away from you.
After all, having an even skin tone and glowing teeth does not make you more ideal as a person either, but nobody argues about the existence of those services.
If we really want to make an impact on the stigmatisation of varying body shapes and issues of eating disorders, a campaign will do the job more effectively.
Removing the service is not going to stop people from developing eating disorders. By raising awareness through campaigns, not only are you impacting those who are affected by fat shaming but also those who inflict it.