Sinful Shoulders! Utah High School Photoshops Girls’ Yearbook Photos

Wasatch High School
Yearbookgate 2014

It’s not unusual to hear of schools banning short skirts and even leggings, but who knew a shoulder is also thought by some to be in the same risqué category as, say, a nipple or upper thigh?

At a high school in Utah (where else?), however, shoulders are apparently equally suggestive, so students are expected to show them only a little, or, as it applies to their high school yearbook photos, not at all.

According to Fox13Now.com, girls had their yearbook images altered if they were showing too much skin. Not too much cleavage or a belly button, mind you, but, in most cases, shoulders. Wasatch High School students were surprised — and not in a good way — to open up their yearbooks and see that sleeves were added to shirts that once had none and scoop necks were made more square.

Strangely, however, not every girl had her top edited.

“I feel like they put names in a hat and pick and choose who,” Rachel Russel, a sophomore, said to Fox. “There were plenty of girls that were wearing thicker tank tops and half of them got edited and half of them didn’t.”

Even stranger? That what bothered the girls the most is that only some girls were edited while others, who also showed their shoulders, were not. Had administrators applied the edits more consistently, they wouldn’t have minded, apparently, even if they still had their shoulders involuntarily covered up.

For their part, administrators said girls baring their shoulders knew they were in violation of the dress code and warning signs were posted saying pictures may be edited if they appeared to be dressed inappropriately. They did apologize, though, for not applying the punishment across the board.

“We only apologize in the sense that we want to be more consistent with what we’re trying to do in that sense we can help kids better prepare for their future by knowing how to dress appropriately for things,” Superintendent Terry E. Shoemaker told Fox.

The whole thing seems absurd (until you realize, again, that it’s Utah). But really, if this is the school’s worst problem then it’s probably not a bad place to be. At a time when reading scores at most school are still lacking, homemade food is banned from some schools, and one school is just getting a non-racially segregated prom, it would seem as if Wasatch High School students should throw up their (covered) shoulders in a group shrug and be thankful that their issues aren’t worse.

Sure, it would be better if girls weren’t made to be ashamed of a body parts whose primary functions include allowing actions such as lifting, pushing, and pulling. But if they can still use their shoulders to hug (unlike these schools), and if their shoulders are effective at helping them dominate in dodgeball (which, sadly, not all students can brag about), they should consider themselves ahead of the game — just not while wearing tank tops.

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