It’s not often that I see true abuse of a digital technology – technology is amoral; the people who use it are the ones who decide to use it for good or bad. This site that my brother sent to me is probably the worst thing of it’s type I’ve seen, and I think it falls into the realm of technology abuse: it’s one thing to retouch an adult model (we live in an ugly, shallow world), but to do that to a child goes too far in my opinion. Most adults have self-esteem problems about how they look, but your average child under the age of ten is likely blissfully unaware of how the world works when it comes to physical beauty, and that’s a good thing. I know very little about the world of beauty pageants, although if I combine what I saw in Little Miss Sunshine with what I intuit from this Web site, I’d say that parents putting their children through beauty pageants probably don’t realize the damage they’re doing to their children. I suspect they’ll be paying for it later with therapy bills or bail money.
Back to the digital retouching: look at the image below. The “child” on the right doesn’t even look human any more. This isn’t digital re-touching, this is digital re-construction. Everything that makes the child cute has been ripped away and replaced by a horrible digital mockery of beauty. Click through the samples to see more (this one is particularly awful).
Ultimately the “artist” doing this re-touching work is providing a service (and some of the work is perfectly reasonable), though I openly question her/his morals for offering to do this in the first place. The real blame here lies with the parents of the children for thinking that anything could explain why they’d take a picture of their child and let some digital hack take the natural beauty away and replace it with a synthetic, digital façade that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie than real life. This is just sad.