The New York Times has a trend story today on the rising numbers of parents choosing to have their kids' school photos retouched: black eyes expunged... cowlicks flattened...yellow teeth brightened.
I first noticed these retouching options a couple of years ago and laughed. Who on earth would pay $8 extra for that?
A lot of people, apparently.
Oh, how I wish they wouldn't. We spend enough time as grownups ruing our imperfections. Why pass this mania onto our kids, who are, as a rule, at their most adorable?
My 10-year-old went paint shopping with me last year. The guy behind the counter said, "Was it crazy hair day at your school, too? My daughter had that yesterday."
"Nope," my kid said. "Mine always looks like this."
Likewise, my 6-year-old is still trying to figure out how to part her hair, and she thinks it looks mighty fine when she splits it down the middle and leaves her bangs gaping over her forehead like a barn door.
I love this. I even love how kids look with black eyes and scratches. There are usually good stories that go with those--I have a scar under my lip from jumping off the bunk bed backward. I also have strong memories of going to school with a face full of scabs because I fell down while running at top speed up and down hills at a Civil War battleground memorial.
That's real life. It scratches you. It sometimes scars you. And it sometimes looks different from the business we see on TV and in magazines. But it's nothing to hide or feel bad about. We're lovable in spite of and usually because of our imperfections.
Save that $8 for something else, folks--a trip downtown for a cup of hot chocolate sipped outside under the holiday lights. Or for people in Haiti who are still homeless, and still trying to stay alive without enough food or basic sanitation.
The kids are all right, just as they are.