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School Edits Yearbook Photos and Reinforces Misogyny at the Same Time

School Edits Yearbook Photos and Reinforces Misogyny at the Same Time

Oh man. School pictures. I remember those days, and not terribly fondly. I somehow inherited my father’s propensity for looking stoned or sick in every photograph, so you can understand why getting my picture taken wasn’t necessarily a thing to be celebrated. But, regardless of how I felt on the day, the finished product was always a reasonably accurate image of what I looked like that day, even down to the clothes I was wearing. Apparently, not everyone can expect this.

Students at Wasatch High School in Utah — all of them female students, mind you — are upset because the school went in and edited their photos so they showed less skin. What kind of skin where they covering up? Shoulders and clavicles, mainly.

Oooo la la! That shoulder skin is the hottest skin, am I right?

Go ahead. Click on the link and look at the slide show of the original and edited photos. Absolutely none of those photos is in any way inappropriate. All of the photos, in the slide show, at least, are tasteful. I would have killed to take such amazing yearbook photos in high school.

The school said that they photoshopped the pictures so they were more in line with the school dress code. According to the dress code of this particular high school, students are prohibited from “extreme clothing,” which includes “revealing shorts, skirts, dresses, tank shirts, halter or crop tops, spaghetti straps, etc.”

There are items on the list that apply to boys as well, but boy howdy, do dress codes disproportionately fall on girls. We’ve had this discussion before regarding yoga pants and leggings. The female body is not inherently sexual. But oh no! You better put this cardigan over your shoulders. You wouldn’t want to be immodest.

Being a girl can be terrible. No matter how bright or creative you are, there is so much emphasis on how you look. It takes up a lot of brain space. We’re judged harshly regardless of whether we put a lot of effort into our look or no effort. If we do, we’re shallow. If we don’t, well, why even bother with us, right? There’s no way to win, even when we follow these arbitrary rules to the letter.

The message sent by incidents like this are damaging. It’s another way for society to control women and make us feel responsible for other people’s behavior. Holly Mullin, executive director of the Rape Recovery Center, has seen what this message can do:

“If people out there sat with clients who come to the Rape Recovery Center for services, they would hear very often that this sort of message starts very early,” Mullin said.

“They start saying things like, ‘If I hadn’t worn that dress. If I hadn’t had my bra strap showing, if I had looked different, he wouldn’t have done this to me.’ That’s not OK. That is not the kind of behavior we want to be indicating to our children.”

These messages we send boys and girls early have real consequences for the rest of their lives. There is nothing inevitable about how we sexualize women’s bodies. There’s nothing inevitable about how we treat boys and men to see women and girls as sex objects. We can change it. We just have to want to.

But the real kicker in all of this? The school didn’t even apply their dress code photo editing consistently, which, incidentally, is the only thing they are sorry about.

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Photo Credit: Fox13 Screenshot

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158 comments

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6:05AM PDT on Jun 13, 2014

I can only wonder what they wear in their swimming class

8:39PM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

Very disappointing. Looking forward to seeing your picture and find out that it was photoshopped. It would have been different if all pictures were treated the same but to pick and choose who got shopped is unacceptable. Looking at the pictures, I did not see anything that was overly "sexy".

11:02PM PDT on Jun 8, 2014

So, Charles, by your beliefs, high school girls should have their yearbook photos taken in the nude? I guess that would be one way of making them all be shown "equal" that is, except for the fact some are obviously more "well endowed" than others, and that can lead to a ton of insecurity for the girls who haven't developed as much "yet". It's hard enough in high school to not think one is "less than", without having to "bare all" for one's yearbook photo.

9:27PM PDT on Jun 8, 2014

If you think a woman's body is not inherently sexual. Then you aren't a straight man. I;ve been told my ass is incredibly sexy from gay men. Just about anything is sexual to a man.

But having to cover up just for that in incredibly stupid.

12:24AM PDT on Jun 5, 2014

Well, Rita, it boils down to being a difference of opinion. I'm usually pretty tolerant of most everything and don't object to "change", but having one's photo taken for a class yearbook, going to senior prom and other such things fall into what is usually a "traditional" event and as such, deserve a certain degree of taste. The photos didn't show much in the way of "good taste" and certainly not being taken for a class yearbook. If they thought the school's dress code was too restrictive, they should go thru the usual channels to have that changed. They not only didn't but agreed abide by them as far as being students there.

No, I'm not confusing issues at all. We once forbid many other things in the course of our daily lives as being "offensive", or obscene and now they are pretty common, and that includes the use of the "F" word. One doesn't "bat an eye" at seeing outlandsh outfits at Walmart, and there is even a website for "Walmartians", complete with a mocking parody of a "theme song", but here again, we're talking about a once in a year thing, and for seniors, the last momento of their school years unless they move on to college. To me, that means showing a bit of respect for the occassion.

1:37PM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

Ridiculous.

8:47AM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

SLOW NEWS DAY!

8:20AM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

Dear Diane, yes I happen to be serious. I usually am, when discussing sexual discrimination and freedom of expression.
No one is urging these girls to use the "F- word", I am afraid you're confusing issues.
Holding to values doesn't mean not acknowleding the changing fashions. If not, we'd be all clad in stiff Victorian collars, for the sake of decency. Balance is the word, here. This should be part of the school's effort to teach students to "dress appropriately". Common sense can show how there is nothing vulgar or offensive in the original pictures. I think that bare shoulders hardly qualify as "extreme" choices in clothing. You don't share the taste of a girl or two? Well, I say this probably shows how you're not seventeen anymore.
A yearbook is for a student to look back at, it should hold a veritable account of the persons we were, also to show us through the years how we have changed, how we have evolved. It is embarassing that something so innocent can become a target for bigotry; censoring tattoos, changing clothes and colours in a fruitless effort to stop time.
This said… I think the whole focus on the girls' appearance is wrong.
We should be celebrating their accomplishments, not discussing (and forcibly modifying) their looks.

4:39AM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

Wow.... just wow.... I'm so upset right now.

3:43AM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

Sadly noted

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