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Utah students upset about altered yearbook pics


HEBER CITY, Utah (AP) - A group of Utah high school students said they were surprised and upset to discover their school yearbook photos were digitally altered, with sleeves and higher necklines drawn on to cover bare skin.

Several students at Wasatch High School in Heber City said their outfits were in line with the public school's dress code, and they've worn them on campus many times.

"I was shocked and stunned they would do this and wouldn't tell me," 16-year-old sophomore Kimberly Montoya said Thursday. "I just feel targeted at this school. I would have been OK if they had asked me."

The girls said having their photos edited to meet modesty standards squelched their right to express themselves through what they wear.

They also said they felt targeted because the standards were not uniformly applied. At least seven others at the 1,700-student school had their photos altered, and none were boys, they said.

"I was pretty angry about it, really, because that's who we are," said sophomore Rachel Russell, who had sleeves added to her picture. Another sophomore, Shelby Baum, discovered a high, square neckline drawn onto her black V-neck T-shirt, covering a tattoo on her chest.

The Wasatch County School District said in a statement Thursday that students were warned when yearbook photos were taken last fall that images might be altered if students violated dress standards.

"It is understandable that students in violation of the dress code could forget that they received warnings about inappropriate dress," the statement said.

District officials apologized about the alterations being applied inconsistently and said they were evaluating the policy on doctoring photos.

KSTU-TV in Salt Lake City first reported the altered photos Wednesday. The students live in Heber City, which is about 30 miles east of Salt Lake City and has a population of 12,000.

An estimated two-thirds of Utah residents belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which encourages members to practice modesty in how they dress. For women, that includes covering bare shoulders and avoiding low-cut shirts and short skirts and shorts.

The guidelines stem from a belief that bodies are sacred gifts from God, and that God commands people to be chaste. Mormons tend to be uncomfortable with clothing that promotes sexuality due to these beliefs.

Sleeves also cover up the top piece of their temple garments, which resembles a T-shirt. These garments, which Mormons usually start wearing as young adults, are worn underneath regular clothes and serve as a reminder of covenants they make with God.

Church leaders have encouraged young girls in recent years to stay true to modesty standards despite being bombarded with images in popular society that don't follow the same guidelines.

The Wasatch School District dress code uses the word modesty twice: "Clothing will be modest, neat, clean, in good repair. Modesty includes covering shoulders, midriff, back, underwear and cleavage at all times."

Haylee Nielsen, a 15-year-old sophomore, said students who aren't Mormon can sometimes feel judged at the school, adding there is big focus on modesty.

Utah High School Photoshopped Students' Yearbook Photos

Wasatch isn't the only Utah school to ban bare shoulders. Most of the eight high schools in the Granite School District, one of the state's largest, also require covered shoulders, district spokesman Ben Horsley said. The Alpine School District has a districtwide ban on halter tops and tank tops.

Other Utah districts say they regularly send students home if they show up for yearbook pictures dressed inappropriately, and give them an option to come back for another shoot. They say they do not do alter the photos.

Holly Mullen, executive director of the Rape Recovery Center in Utah, said the altered photos are an example of our culture shaming young women into believing they must dress and act a certain way.

School dress codes and yearbook photos have long been a source of consternation across the country.

Recently, schools in Illinois and Utah have banned leggings because they are too revealing. In San Francisco, a Catholic high school earlier this month apologized to a student and her family for refusing to include a portrait of the girl wearing a tuxedo in its yearbook.

Join the discussion

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bitter49er May 31 2014 at 9:26 AM

Students were WARNED in advance that failure to adhere to modesty criteria would lead to photoshopping. And yet, the outrage goes on. God bless America.

Flag Reply +38 rate up
4 replies
mike May 31 2014 at 9:28 AM

good for the school!!!!!

Flag Reply +37 rate up
2 replies
orion15stars mike May 31 2014 at 1:00 PM

So you are all for discrimination to humiliate. Because that is exactly what the school administrator engaged in when ordering some photos altered and not all or none. The students dressed they way they normally dressed because no dress code had been previously enforced. The article was quite clear on that.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
2 replies
JRivers orion15stars May 31 2014 at 1:07 PM

With all the major problems in schools across the country this is an issue? The little "darlings" will have plenty of opportunites in the future to dress like tramps if they want to. Ooh, they covered up a bra strap, call the thought police. If this is the biggest problem in that school, then it must be a very fine school indeed.

Flag +18 rate up
sondravvag orion15stars May 31 2014 at 3:41 PM

This is not humiliation, it is what is good taste. If it comes down to humiliation.........they brought it to themselves for dressing as if they were going to a bar instead of a school photo. Wake up! You wonder where all the teen pregnancies begin? Not with the kids who are dressed for school business, not monkey business. Where the hell are the parents when they leave the house in the morning????

Flag +5 rate up
vlk705 mike May 31 2014 at 2:07 PM

Follow the rules, it won't kill them. This is a ridicules story. Must be a slow news day.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
Scooby May 31 2014 at 10:03 AM

Oh heaven forbid a teenager be FORCED to wear appropriate clothing, digitally. The outrage....

Flag Reply +35 rate up
3 replies
blueeyessing May 31 2014 at 9:36 AM

Why is this story still being featured? Girls, you look better in the "after" retouched photos. Settle down and cover your bra straps the next time (and maybe comb your hair).

Flag Reply +34 rate up
2 replies
Debra Ann Chartier blueeyessing May 31 2014 at 1:09 PM

Really? Well guess what this is crap because only one girls picture was altered yet the very same blouse worn by another was not altered? Explain that one please. This is bull, its just another example of the religious zealots forcing their wants on anyone they wish to.I believe we are fighting for womens rights in the Middle East to be allowed to wear what they wish, yeah I believe the penalty over there for not complying can be stoning or death, yep great values .I am a Cathloic(HORRORS) and I dress how I wish not how others say I should this is just another example of the religious lunatics getting more of a foothold, the last tme I checked my body is about the last thing I have any control over , let someone demand I wear sleeves or demand I wear a high collar, this is ridiculous oh yes nad according to the bible I do believe we were born naked!!!

Flag Reply +10 rate up
6 replies
vlk705 blueeyessing May 31 2014 at 2:05 PM

Debra Ann, from one woman to another.....Get a Life and quit ranting on & on. What B.S.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
ruggedcross98 May 31 2014 at 9:42 AM

Way to alter the story to make it sound like what you want. There was a sign staying photos may be edited.

Flag Reply +25 rate up
TOM May 31 2014 at 9:23 AM

Upset about nothing!

Flag Reply +21 rate up
1 reply
Dr. Cameron TOM May 31 2014 at 10:35 AM

Typical of lots of teens isn't it!

Flag Reply +15 rate up
1 reply
Madeye Dr. Cameron May 31 2014 at 1:48 PM

Yes it is, doc. Being a teenager is upsetting. Thank God it doesn't last long.

Flag +2 rate up
AOL9.7 May 31 2014 at 9:33 AM

Parents! Too bad they lack
the ability to influence their
kiddos dress. Senior pictures
are a once in a lifetime event.

Be very glad if YOU had good role models!
Appearance does matter, people.

SOME youths push codes to the limit, most eventually
learn a better way to look. Glad I had good role models.

Flag Reply +21 rate up
ozboo May 31 2014 at 9:52 AM

they did these students of favor....they don't look like cheap hooker's, blame the parents for letting em go looking like street walker's lookin to turn a trick.

Flag Reply +19 rate up
5 replies
Rabbi Moishe May 31 2014 at 9:45 AM

This is why UTAH is one of the few decent states in the union. Strict Mormon morals are adhered to. Soon livestock and domestic animals will wear underwear. There is no room for sin in UTAH.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
4 replies
JACKIE May 31 2014 at 12:57 PM

If they are upset over this, they've got some real surprises awaiting them in the real world!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
2 replies
orion15stars JACKIE May 31 2014 at 1:38 PM

Those students are already cynically well aware that their elders are hypocrites. Children know what hypocrisy is long before they realize there exists the word hypocrisy and words to define it. It starts with "Don't do as I do. Do as I say." I was about two when I knew hypocrisy in behavioral action of elders every time I saw and heard it.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
ladybaylee JACKIE May 31 2014 at 7:08 PM

Yours is the best one so far. They may not realize it now, but life is not going to get any easier. There will be certain things that you just do not have any control over.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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