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KC’s St. Teresa’s Academy in flap over faces after retouched photos are printed on IDs

St. Teresa’s Academy students and administrators were appalled this week when they received a new shipment of student IDs that included many with retouched photos. The photo company blamed the error on a processing mistake.
St. Teresa’s Academy students and administrators were appalled this week when they received a new shipment of student IDs that included many with retouched photos. The photo company blamed the error on a processing mistake. The Kansas City Star

Every year, the students at St. Teresa’s Academy, one of Kansas City’s private all-girl schools, receive student IDs bearing their pictures.

Friday, few at the school were smiling.

One day after a fresh batch of the IDs were delivered, the school found itself in a flap over faces.

The problem arose Friday when an item popped up on the gossip site perezhilton.com bearing the headline “AWFUL! All-Girls High School Retouches Students’ Yearbook Photos to Make them Appear Thinner!!” The item spoke of an “unidentified all-girls school” in Kansas City that “decided its students weren’t perfect how they are, so they retouched all of their ID photos — which would also be used for the yearbook!”

Problem is it’s untrue, St. Teresa’s President Nan Tiehen Bone said Friday afternoon.

Yes, the school, which has 140 seniors in a high school of 600, did get a delivery of photo IDs this week. That in itself was odd because the students had already received their original school photo IDs in September. And yes, pretty much all of the newly delivered batch of senior IDs had been retouched by the photo company, DeCloud Studios in Overland Park.

“My face was slimmer. My cheeks were slimmer. My neck was slimmer. … I didn’t have any freckles on my nose,” said senior Lily O’Neill, 17, a member of the school’s yearbook staff.

Odder still, O’Neill said, is that many seniors had already seen some version of the retouched photos posted on a school picture website earlier in the year but hadn’t made much of the changes until this week, when the new IDs showed up. One student complained about the new photos on the website Reddit and posted her before and after pictures.

But no, no, no, Bone emphasized Friday, the school did not ask for or authorize any kind of retouching of the photos. It was an admitted mistake on the part of the photo company, she said, adding that the school actually dissuades its students from wearing too much makeup.

“We don’t agree with any of that,” she said of the retouching. “Of course, we were very angry.”

Susan Hoefer, a manager who works inside the senior photo studio at DeCloud, placed the fault on a processing mistake.

“It’s very simple,” she said. “The IDs were run through an automated retouching program, which they shouldn’t have been. It was an honest mistake.”

Bone said that students are being asked to return the IDs and, if they want new ones, they will have an original by Monday afternoon.

O’Neill said that the yearbook staff had already, before the facial faux pas, planned to use the original, unretouched photos.

To reach Eric Adler, call 816-234-4431 or send email to eadler@kcstar.com.

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