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Sunday 21 September 2014

Anger at 'digital slimming' option

Published 16/07/2014 | 16:58

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Graduates were offered a 'digital slimming' option

The graduation photography company for some of Britain's elite universities has sparked anger by offering students the chance to make themselves look thinner with digitally enhanced images.

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Success Photography, which works with a string of Russell Group universities including the University of York and LSE, offers students a digital slimming option for £9.95 which promises to thin down the "bulky and unflattering" gown in snaps.

For an extra £7.95 graduates can opt for the digital complexion and smile enhancement, which, according to the firm's website, "r emoves all imperfections such as blemishes, redness and shine, leaving your skin looking smooth and healthy. We also enhance the whiteness of your smile".

But the offer has provoked anger among some students who branded it "outrageous" and warned it helped fuel low self esteem among students who should be celebrating their academic achievements - not worrying about their looks.

A former University of York student with the Twitter name aims&c wrote: " Utterly disgusting that @UniOfYork's graduation photographer offers 'digital slimming' of graduation pictures."

A student called Aurie wrote: "' Digital slimming' & 'smile enhancement' in graduation photos. A sad snapshot of society and why many people have such low self esteem."

Another Twitter user known as KitsuneKuro wrote: " 'Digital slimming' option for my graduation photos lol gross gross gross gross."

Success Photography, which is based in Surrey and also lists The Law Society among its clients, insists they only digitally slim down university gowns, and not students.

In a brief statement they said: " Just to make clear 'digital slimming' refers to reducing the appearance of the gown only, never the individual."

But they refused to answer any other questions about the controversy.

At least one university has promised to look into the matter following the student outcry.

A spokesman for the University of York, which was ranked the 11th best university in the country according to The Times and Sunday Times 2014 university league table, said: "Success Photography has offered a service at York graduations for a number of years.

"It has a contractual relationship with the Student Union (YUSU) rather than with the University. We have no knowledge of the specific services they offer. We will look into this matter in more detail in conjunction with YUSU as soon as possible."

Sam Maguire, President of YUSU, said: " We were unaware of the Success Photography promotion regarding 'digital slimming' and 'digital complexion enhancement' for graduation photos and as soon as we became aware of this we spoke to Success Photography as we do feel that the offer and some of the promotional material could promote negative body image.

"Success have removed the offer from on campus written promotional material and are currently taking steps to amend their online programmes to withdraw the offer. They agreed to take this action as soon as we raised the issue with them."

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