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Young Cancer Patient Turned Away for Yearbook Photo Because She Refuses to Remove Cap

A middle school student from Albuquerque, New Mexico has been battling cancer since she was five years old. A recent round of chemotherapy left her with some hair loss, so she donned a cute hat for her school yearbook photos. The photographer refused to take the girl's picture, however, unless she ditched the hat. The student's mother says the little girl was humiliated.

Bella Thurston, a 13-year-old student at Hoover Middle School, went down to have her photograph taken for the yearbook on school picture day, just like the rest of the kids in the class. When she got up to the photographer, he told her she had to remove her hat or he wouldn't take the photo.

The photographer, who works with Lifetouch Photography, told the student that posing with hats for the yearbook was 'against policy'.

"I was like, 'OK, so I can't wear my hat? ‘And he was like, 'No, you can go fix your hair, take your hat off or I won't take your picture."

Bella, who is suffering hair loss due to chemo treatments, says she was shocked.

"It was just really humiliating and upsetting for me," Bella told KOAT. "I was trying really hard not to cry. It was just not a good experience."

Kara Thurston, Bella's mother, says she was furious about the incident. She said the way the photographer treated her daughter was 'heartbreaking'.

Lifetouch Photography apologized to Bella and her mother for what they say was a terrible 'misunderstanding'.

"We have been in touch with the school and have reached out to the family to offer their daughter a complimentary photography session in a place of their choosing," the company said in a statement.

Kara says she only wants her daughter to be able to take a yearbook photo with her hat on in the same setting as all the other students took their photo.

It is unclear if Bella, Kara or anyone at the school made Bella’s special circumstances understood to the person taking pictures. Lifetouch photographers are given strict rules by the company and the schools to follow, and will usually suffer consequences if they don’t follow those rules because reshoots and reprinting yearbooks can be a very expensive endeavor.

On any given day, a photographer has to deal with students trying to get a photo taken when they are violating the rules. Photographers are required to turn away students when clothing, make-up or accessories do not fit within the established guidelines.

Hats are an accessory typically restricted for yearbook photos because schools like the yearbook photos to look uniform and showing off the full face of the student. Photographers aren’t allowed to take the photos with students wearing them unless they get express permission from a teacher or someone in the school’s administration.

The Albuquerque Public Schools system reached out to Lifetouch to discuss the incident and to discuss their concerns about how photographers interact with children. Lifetouch says that they would be 'revisiting our training protocol with our photographers'.

Schools and parents can avoid these kinds of incidents in the future as well when school picture days roll around. If they know a student has a specific reason for violating the usual standard dress code, simply giving the child a note to hand the photographer can usually clear up any confusion.

Source: Daily Mail
Photos: KOAT, Kara Thurston/Facebook, Google Maps

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