Chances are you’ve never heard of Jennifer McKendrick, aka Jen McKen, a Southwest Pennsylvania photographer who shoots mostly weddings and portraits for high school seniors, but a policy she recently enacted is making waves all across the web. Last week McKen discovered a Facebook group set-up by some local high school girls – clients of hers – that was being used to mock and shame their fellow female classmates, essentially an online “burn book” that “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 a local news outlet. “It was vicious. It was talking about sexuality,” she said.
So McKen decided she wouldn’t photograph four students who were involved. She wrote on her Facebook page, “I am emailing them tomorrow to cancel their shoots. I do not want them to represent my business and I am beside myself at how MEAN and CRUEL they were on that page.” She went on to explain her decision in a blog post, saying, “I’m a small business owner and I have the luxury of making that decision. 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!”
McKen did receive responses from two of the girls’ parents, who said they were shocked and appalled at their daughters’ behavior. McKen says, “I’m not going to give a big speech that says how wrong or uncool it is…because let’s face it, you are seniors you should know better. I’m not trying to save the world of bullies or trying to start a movement.” And yet, news of her small, personal decision is going viral. Her Facebook page has over 19,000 fans and her wall is full of thank-you notes from people all over the country, thrilled that she took a stand against cyberbullying. Cheers to you, Jen McKen! May you enjoy a great career.
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