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When baby gets airbrushed

Anyone with even the vaguest knowledge of what goes on in the publishing industry probably realizes all those sexy, magazine-cover images of movie stars and models are usually -- shocker! -- airbrushed. But for some reason, most of us may not have considered that the cherubic faces beaming at readers from the front of some parenting mags also have been retouched to make them look more attractive.

The Telegraph
, expanding on information first uncovered in a BBC documentary called "My Supermodel Baby," reported earlier this week that Practical Parenting and Pregnancy, a UK magazine, alters some baby photos to make skin tones more even, eyes brighter and creases of fat less apparent.

Editors at U.S. magazines, on the other hand, have insisted that they don't resort to such practices. Representatives from, Parenting and Baby Talk magazines are quoted in's Mommy Files blog as saying that they make standard adjustments but never remove imperfections.

Do you believe them, though? Would you be surprised to learn that more magazines sometimes alter baby photos? And in a world where we all have access to the flaw-deleting joys of Photoshop, do you ever get a little "creative" with your own kids' pictures?

Jen Chaney oversees movie coverage for the Post's Web site, contributes to Babble's Strollerderby blog, posts here in On Parenting every Thursday and would love to airbrush her hideous perm out of all of her photos from the years 1987 and 1988.

Local Living

Stories from today's Local Living section:

  • Coming to terms with the effects of no longer requiring long papers

    By Jen Chaney |  November 19, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Babies , Entertainment
    Previous: Understanding why toddlers say 'why' | Next: What Working Mother's attack on custody says about dads


    "Do you believe them, though?"

    No. And I don't care.

    Posted by: jezebel3 | November 19, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

    On Parenting is dead. (Please) long live something else...

    Posted by: 06902 | November 19, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

    I have to say, this really is the most insipid topic to date. The only thing worse than rehashing old topics that have been done to death is introducing new topics that are this ridiculous.

    Posted by: CharmCityMom | November 19, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

    I always assumed everyone was airbrushed for magazines, young and old alike.

    Middle School photos offered airbrushing for 5$, we opted out. And no, we don't get "creative" with the kid's pictures - we are lucky they even get taken, uploading is a whole different story.

    Posted by: cheekymonkey | November 19, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

    PS. I tend to concur with all 3 of the other posters.

    My recommendation is for someone to hijack today's thread. Anyone?

    Posted by: cheekymonkey | November 19, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

    How about what family traditions does your family do for Thanksgiving to remind your kids of the meaning of the holiday? Or even for Christmas.

    Posted by: sunflower571 | November 19, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

    Two other questions I have-are you letting your kids see the new Twilight movie and on Thanksgiving do you have a kids table or let the kids be intergrated into the adults table? This will be our 3rd time hosting Thanksgiving and usually we have the kids sit at a kids table but this year we are going to push a table against our dining room table and the 5 kids join the 14 adults.

    Posted by: sunflower571 | November 19, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

    Immediately after #2 was born, the photographer made his rounds, consequently, there's splotches of blood on her face, head and swaddling cloth visible in her newborn baby picture. Obviously, that picture wasn't air-brushed, but that was a good decade and a half ago. My wife isn't too happy about it and rightly so. Sloppy work Mr photographer, at least wipe the blood off the baby before snapping the shot. Sheesh!

    I've heard of bad pictures of cone headed and jaundice babies whose pictures have been improved with a little touch-up artisttry, but so what, who cares? All infants pretty much look alike in their first few months of life anyway, right?

    Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 19, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

    I have a hijack!

    I would love to discuss siblings sharing bedrooms. I grew up as an only child and most of my friends were from small families, so sharing rooms is not something I'm terribly familiar with. I'm struggling with this a bit now because my twins share a room and it's a big struggle to keep them from waking each other up at night and first thing in the morning. At some point, my older daughter will start sharing with her little sister, and I'm wondering about the later childhood/teenage years also.

    If your kids share a room, how do you deal with one who gets up significantly earlier than the other (especially if they are too little to quietly leave the room themselves)? For older kids, what kind of ground rules do you have about room sharing? If one child has a friend over, do they play in the shared room? If so, does the other kid have to stay out? Or do you make the kids play someplace else? How do you deal with bedtime if one child is really too old for a scheduled bedtime, but the younger one still needs one?

    Posted by: floof | November 19, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

    Floof (and Brian - hello?? You listening?)... I would love to see a discussion on this topic. We just found that I am pregnant again yesterday and our daughter will be 22 months old when #2 is born. DH wants the babies to share a room as he shared a room when he was little and enjoyed it... I grew up the complete opposite and we always had our own rooms. We were thinking about having #2 in our room in a bassinet for the first few months until he/she becomes a better sleeper.. and then putting them in the same room. Admittedly, I am very nervous about the waking issues... our daughter sleeps 13 hours straight at night and has for EVER and I don't want to mess up a good thing!

    Posted by: youngnovamama | November 19, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

    It's a mystery to me why OP hasn't run a Swine Flu topic and discuss if it, or any seasonal flue shot, should be a required vaccine for public school admitance. It's a hot topic everywhere.

    No swine flue shot for my kids yet, I'll let those parents who trust the government so much that they are willing to offer up their kids to the benefit of science go first.

    Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 19, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

    It's a mystery to me why OP hasn't run a Swine Flu topic and discuss if it, or any seasonal flue shot, should be a required vaccine for public school admitance. It's a hot topic everywhere.

    Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 19, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

    There's an exemption provision in my state, so it's not quite a hot topic "everywhere".

    Posted by: jezebel3 | November 19, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

    Hasn't there been a swine flu topic? I thought there had.

    Depending on where you live, h1n1 may not even be an issue anymore. Everyone I know has either already had it or at least been exposed. I know some people who did eventually get shots, but when half the kids in your child's class have already had it I wonder if there's any point to even getting the shot.

    Posted by: floof | November 19, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

    Floof, great topic.
    I have three girls - 8, 4 and 1/2. Two possible rooms. The 8 & 4 year-old are currently together and the baby with us.
    I've been thinking of putting the 8 & baby together and the 4-year old separate.

    Also on rooms - where does one let the older children have small parts (art pieces, polly pockets, legos as opposed to duplos...)? Bedroom is shared, living room/den is for the whole family.

    Posted by: inBoston | November 19, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

    to floof and others on the room-sharing issue:

    I am the oldest of 3, and shared a room. Originally with my little sister (almost 2 1/2 years younger), then with her and my younger brother (5 years younger). Eventually my brother moved to his own room.

    Sharing was great, till around 5th grade. Yes, we had fights. And different levels of neatness. But once I hit middle school, it was HORRIBLE! Either we were just as such different phases, or we were too close to the same phase, etc. No sense of privacy. No time or palce where you knew you could have a private conversation - with a visiting friend or on the phone. We had regular conversations on how to divide the room. Unfortunately, every option left one of us with access to the closet, and the other with access to the door, but no clothes or underwear. My fondest fantasy for years was that my folks would surprise me for my birthday and at least semi-finish the basement and let me move down there.

    SO - especially for girls, I'd say sharing may be great, until the oldest hits puberty. Then, if you have space, give her a place to call her own.

    OH - on the infant in the room. If you have a toddler who sleeps well, probably not an issue. But my brother was a terrible sleeper. I remember my mom got up with him at least twice a night for ages, and I remember soothing him back to sleep at least once most nights too. From that experience I'd say if the kids are farther apart, or if your older kid is a caretaker type, you may want to wait until the baby is mostly sleeping through the night. Otherwise the older kid might wake up to help the baby too.

    Good luck!

    Posted by: JHBVA | November 19, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

    "If your kids share a room, how do you deal with one who gets up significantly earlier than the other (especially if they are too little to quietly leave the room themselves)?"

    DD#2 gets up early, DD#1 sleeps in. When they shared a room, DD#2 would come in with me and we'd try to be quiet until a reasonable hour. This worked somewhat. They no longer share a room, which DD#1 likes but DD#2 does not like--although they both like sharing a room when we go on vacation. Now, when DD#2 wakes up, she comes in with me, because she hasn't had anyone human to talk with ALL NIGHT. We try to be quiet so as not to wake up DD#1, which works somewhat. In terms of affect on the sleeping child, I see little difference.

    On Christmas and other times when there is an incentive to get up, DD#1 would tell DD#2 what time to get her up.

    As for each one having somewhere to store her own things, I just got some bins and designated half for each girl. They decided what went in their bins, they sort of respected the privacy of the other one's bins (kind of like now, when they sort of respect the privacy of the other one's room). What's nice about separate rooms is that when they really need a time out from each other, they have separate spaces in which to go. Before, I had to decide on one space for one girl, another space for the other.

    ArmyBrat, did your Irish au pair end up at Purdue, majoring in Early Childhood Education? I used to know someone who fits that description.

    Posted by: janedoe5 | November 19, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

    I should mention that I'm now 35, with a child of my own, and get along well with my sister. But my mother still jokes that she thought she had named one of us b**ch and the other bas***d, since those were frequently the names we used for each other. For years.

    I'd consider us both well adjusted adults, and not sure how she feels about having shared a room growing up, but I know I relished it, my senior year in college, when I finally, for the first time since my sister was born, had my own room again. If I'm blessed with a 2nd daughter they will probably share until the oldest hits 10 or 11, unless they ask to stay together.

    Posted by: JHBVA | November 19, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

    "ArmyBrat, did your Irish au pair end up at Purdue, majoring in Early Childhood Education? I used to know someone who fits that description."

    Nope; she's an accountant, back in Galway; married with one daughter and a second one due any day.

    Re: kids sharing rooms - I grew up sharing with my brother, while my sister always got her own room since she was the only girl. So I always wanted each child to have his/her own room. And for the most part they have - vacations excepted.

    Hasn't seemed to bother the oldest two went they went away to college and had to deal with roommates.

    BTW, the girls do NOT respect one another's rooms/privacy, particularly where clothes, makeup and perfume are at stake. On any given day, the youngest is equally likely to be wearing clothes belonging to either sister or her mother, purloined from their rooms. The others raid her room, ostensibly to get their stuff back. For some reason, none of the girls ever wanted to go into their brother's room. :-)

    Original topic? Come on - everybody re-touches all published photos.

    Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | November 19, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

    For a while all 5 of my girls shared one room-it was great! Now my 11 and 8 year olds are together, the twins are together and the 3 year old has her own room. We have never had any trouble with them keeping each other awake and the older two often spend some time talking about important stuff when the lights go out (they haven't learned that there voices carry down the stairs to our room yet). I think they enjoy it most of the time. There are always days when they fight, but I think they would do that even if they didn't have to share their space.

    Posted by: thosewilsongirls | November 19, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

    AB, I think getting a roommate in college is good topic. I know more than one only child that could not handle sharing a room with a roommate. I don't know how indicative this is of only children, but my experience would lend me to believe that kids with siblings tend to adjust to the dorm room set up and atmosphere better.

    I could be completely off base.

    Posted by: cheekymonkey | November 19, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

    I always assumed everyone was airbrushed for magazines, young and old alike. I assume everything online has the opportunity to be touched up.

    Happy holidays,


    Posted by: KatLuvsShoes | November 19, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

    I shared a room with two younger sisters until I was 15. Our little brother always had a room to himself. Middle sister was the earliest riser, and she'd kick the bottom of my bunk bed until she woke me up and made me get up and play with her. Youngest sister sometimes got ganged-up on by us two older sisters, but I got tired of that game pretty quickly. Middle sister was always trying to get *somebody* to team up with her to pick on and bully *somebody* else.

    Today, youngest sister gets along great with everyone in the family. I get along with her and little brother. Middle sister can't get along with anyone except youngest sister - but that's because youngest sister makes all the effort. So, sharing a room with a sibling might help kids learn to adapt to other people, but there are no guarantees.

    Yes, we borrowed each other's clothes pretty regularly when sizes were close enough - that didn't change after I got my own room, either. None of us *ever* borrowed from Mother, though. Her clothes were way too big for us, and more importantly, they were ugly and unfashionable. We had a basic rule enforced by Dad (and nobody crossed him!), you had to ask the owner before you borrowed, and put it into the laundry afterwards.

    Privacy? Got over wanting that as a child, so it never bothered me when I had kids of my own and they didn't respect closed doors either.

    The rules for sharing will have to be adapted for different circumstances. My two boys share a room with bunk beds. They alternated who slept in which bunk until older son was too big and heavy for the top bunk's weight rating. While my sisters and I shared a room with a bunk bed, *I* as oldest, always slept in the top bunk.

    When a guest is over the boys will play/entertain in the bedroom or the family room or the backyard - all three kids together sometimes, and sometimes just the guest and the host kid. Older son is very gracious and accomodating to his brother's guests - younger son is getting better at this as he matures.

    Posted by: SueMc | November 19, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

    I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, but when my daughter was 2 months old, she had terrible, terrible baby acne, and I did touch that up in some photographs of her.

    Posted by: stubor | November 22, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

    Stuber, I think it's fine to want your baby to look her best!

    Jezebel3, this is a great topic. Just saw H1N1 signs for the vaccine at a local CVS in El Segundo, Ca. but my husband and I typically don't opt-in for the flu vaccine so no-go for us or my 8-year-old daughter on the H1N1.

    My ad agency in Santa Monica offered the flu vaccine and I think about 1/3 of the employees got the shot.

    My sister, 34, gets a flu shot every year but I do not. Seems to be a matter of personal choice.

    Re: sharing bedrooms, wilson girls- how fun- 5 girls. Good for you!

    Best wishes to everyone,


    Posted by: BarelySaneParent | November 22, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

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