Woman Slammed for Sharing Photoshopped Pictures of Sister's Teen Daughter

An image-obsessed aunt has been criticized for posting a series of photos online in which she edited her niece's appearance to make her look slimmer.

Body dysmorphia is a mental health condition, most commonly encountered in teenagers and young adults, where a person spends an unhealthy amount of time worrying about flaws in their appearance.

According to statistics compiled by the Minnesota Association for Children's Mental Health in 2014, at age 13, 53 percent of girls in the U.S. are unhappy with their bodies, with that number growing to 78 percent by the age of 17. By middle school, it is estimated that between 40 and 70 percent of girls are dissatisfied with 2 or more parts of their body.

It's a scenario that's all too familiar to one 37-year-old mother posting on Reddit's "Am I The A**hole" subreddit. According to the post, her 14-year-old daughter, Lucy, has become "a lot more self conscious" since becoming a teenager.

"She constantly compares herself to friends at school, celebrities, etc," her mom explained. "I currently have her attending therapy and I also try my best to remind her that she's beautiful just the way she is."

However, Lucy's confidence took a serious knock after she went to the mall with her aunt Valerie. Though the trip went well enough, the mom was alarmed to find Lucy "laying in her bed crying" a few hours later.

When she asked what had happened, her daughter pulled out her phone and began scrolling through a series of pictures her aunt had posted on social media from their trip together.

It quickly became apparent that Lucy's appearance had been edited. "She made her complexion clearer, her teeth whiter and even slimmed in her waist," her mom said. To make matters worse, "Lucy also pointed out that Valerie only photoshopped her in the pics."

With her daughter distraught, the woman said she decided to call up her sister and confront her over her actions. But the aunt "doubled down" on her decision, telling the mom she was simply making her daughter look "better." The conversation soon escalated into a full-blown shouting match, with the woman admitting she branded her sister a "dollar store Instagram slut" over her actions.

Since then the two have not spoken, with the woman's husband urging her to make peace with Valerie as she is the "big sister" and "went too far." He was very much in the minority though, with the majority of comments on Reddit condemning the aunt's callous actions.

Crash_SC branded her "heartless," noting that she had "basically told a teenager they were not good enough as they are." Juidal said that Valerie's actions were "really sick and stupid" but what made it worse is that she "can't even understand that what she did is bad "

Likeahike urged the woman to "report the image as inappropriate and cut contact" with her sister. "Photoshopping someone without their knowledge or consent is despicable," they said. "Your sister sent your daughter a clear message that she's not good enough, not slim enough."

Others hit out at the husband's response. PaisleyPenguin commented: "It annoys me when people say 'you should be the mature one' or 'be the bigger person.' In other words, you are expected to enable your sister's behavior." Stormyllewellynn added: "I will never understand why grown women use photoshop. You're not in high school. Also photoshopping a literal child. Why?"

Newsweek has contacted the original poster for comment.

It's not the first time body issues have sparked debate on Reddit. Earlier this month, one woman regaled social media with the story of how she hit back at her mother-in-law after she called her fat.

In another related online debate, one mom took shots at her husband's siblings and a sexist tradition in which the men of the family gather for a photo.

An upset teenager looking at her phone.
Stock image of a teenager looking at her phone - a woman has hit out at her sister for editing photos of her daughter. fizkes/Getty