Self-employed photographer Jennifer McKendrick snaps senior portraits, giving graduates a lasting memory of their high school years. Unfortunately, for many of those students, the last four years included taunts, teasing, and verbal torture served up by their classmates.
Bullying remains a controversial issue, with some arguing it is simply part of growing up, but a slew of high-profile cases have heightened awareness around the problem. While many adults feel helpless to make a difference, McKendrick found a way to take a stand.
After stumbling on a Facebook page dedicated to posting hurtful comments about local high school students, McKendrick did a little investigative work and discovered the page was created by a group of teenage girls that the photographer had booked for future photoshoots.
“It was beyond ‘your clothes are ugly’ or ‘you don’t have any brand clothes’ or ‘you are ugly, your hair is not right,” she told Pittsburgh’s 6 News. “It was vicious. It was talking about sexuality.”
McKendrick promptly contacted the real-life mean girls and their parents via email, explaining she could no longer provide her photography services.
“[H]ow I could spend 2 hours with someone during our session trying to take beautiful photos of them knowing they could do such UGLY things,” she shared on her blog. “Realistically, I know by canceling their shoots it’s not going to make them ‘nicer people’ but I refuse to let people like that represent my business.”
The experience has inspired the gutsy photographer to adopt a new motto: “If you are ugly on the inside, I’m sorry but I won’t take your photos to make you look pretty on the outside.”
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