Professionally altered yearbook photo sparks outrage

How a teen caught the company and saved the day for her school.


Rae Votta


Published Jan 9, 2015   Updated May 29, 2021, 7:28 pm CDT

Excessive photoshopping in Hollywood and magazines is frustrating enough, but when an unsuspecting high schooler noticed her new school photo had been warped beyond recognition she decided to take action.

One teenage redditor noticed that her school ID photo had been edited without her consent to make her appear skinnier. The same photo would be used in the school yearbook, and, in addition to bringing the issue to her school’s attention, user love_a_good_ood took to r/TwoXChromosomes to share her outrage.

I go to an all girls high school and today every senior got a new student ID. We had gotten one in the beginning of the school year and we were all unsure as to why we were given a second. After closer inspection we realized that our photos had be retouched far past smoothing out blemishes. Here is a list of changes made in my photo:

  • face smoothing
  • skin recoloring
  • lip recoloring
  • eyebrow smoothing and reshaping
  • face thinning

I was outraged! I have a round face that I have grown to love and now I get my photo back with a different face. The new photo no longer even looks like me but rather a prettier twin sister. When we go and have our photos taken we are flat out told that our skin will be retouched to hide blemishes. We are not told, however, that more drastic changes are made.

The drastic changes can be seen in a GIF that compares her original ID image with the newly retouched one.

While the blame was initially placed on the school, she updated the thread to explain that it was actually the company the school contracts with for the photos that made the unprompted edits to student IDs.


After meeting with my high school it has been determined that the untouched original photos will be use in the yearbook. The edits were not made by my school but rather the company our school used. These changes were made without notification to the school. When our yearbook teacher saw the photos he was outraged along with all the other staff members of the school. 

This is far from the first time someone has edited a student’s yearbook photo to be more “acceptable.” Last May a Utah teen found that the neckline of her shirt had been raised to cover a tattoo, for example, but this instance parallels more with the dramatic photoshopping that runs rampant in fashion magazines to promote unrealistic body images. While this may not stop other companies from trying to “smooth” student appearances, hopefully schools will remain hyper-vigilant about the unwanted retouching of student photos.

H/T Styleite | Photo via love_a_good_ood/Reddit

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*First Published: Jan 9, 2015, 9:59 pm CST