News: Utah Modesty Police Photoshop Yearbook Photos

News: Utah Modesty Police Photoshop Yearbook Photos May 30, 2014

from Michael Stone at his blog Progressive Secular Humanist – American Taliban: Utah Modesty Police Edit Girls’ Yearbook Photos

Editorial note: This has been all over the media the last few days. Apparently  Good Christians/Mormons ™ decided that tank tops and bra straps were the big No-No and decided to keep Utah boys pure of lustful thoughts by photoshopping (badly) sleeves onto shirts covering shoulders and bra straps. More slut-shaming in this modesty standard that wasn’t even applied consistently.

Modesty standards and slut shaming isn’t just for Biblical Patriarches, Minthegap’s Adam Gregorin and church busybodies any more.

Administrators claim the students knew about the dress code’s modesty requirements, and also claim that students were warned that their pictures might be edited.

Taking a defiant stance, the Wasatch County Superintendent would only admit the school erred in not applying the same rules to each student.

“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,” said Terry E. Shoemaker, who is the superintendent of schools for the Wasatch County School District.

However, critics find the unauthorized photoshopping of the girls yearbook photos deeply disturbing, and reflect the power of the notorious Mormon modesty police in the state of Utah.

Read the entire posting at Patheos Progressive Secular Humanist

Comments open below

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  • Independent Thinker

    I am far from modest but growing up in the south do admit that some girls would have walked around naked if it were permissible. When I go back home it is not unusual to see shorts with butt checks hanging out the bottom of them, bikini tops, or pajama pants in the grocery stores. First of all the rules should have been evenly applied in this situation. Second I would like to know who created the rules. Did the students and parents have involvement? How many people got to set the standards? Where I do agree with the school is there should be some standards because in life there are standards of dress for jobs and social events. What I don’t agree with is a small group of people like school administrators setting those standards and shutting the community out from giving input. For me personally simply wearing a tank top and having your photo altered seems extreme. The bra strap issue I am more sympatheic towards.

  • Edie Moore McGee

    I don’t have a problem with dress code rules. At my daughter’s (public) middle school, for example, there’s a no showing underwear (male or female) and a no spaghetti strap rule. Consistency, though, is the key as it is with any rule. You can’t use rules to slam people you don’t like, then let the people you do like slide. For yearbook pictures, we always had things we were supposed to wear. White shirt or blouse for girls with a dark sweater. Necktie for boys. And when you were a senior, boys wore a dinner jacket and the girls wore that little off-the-shoulder black velvet drape.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I agree with you on much of that.. but I think it stems from our modern culture more than regions or religions. People aren’t being taught or modeled in the home or society the idea of dressing appropriately for the situation.

    Example: In my tiny southern town I’ve been called for jury duty more times than you can shake a stick and they always send out a letter spelling out what is and isn’t appropriate courtroom attire. It amazes me that they have to tell people not to wear booty shorts or obscene tee shirts or tee shirts with drug references on them to court! Seems to me like this should be a given, not something you have to tell people. In your home, go nuts, go naked or nearly naked… but use some common sense in public.

  • Mel

    As a public school teacher, we have a very basic dress code that we enforce for both boys and girls. Parents are invited each year to give input into the code as are the students.

    If someone is dressed outside of the code, we try to see if they can adjust what they are wearing without having to change. For example, if a guy’s underwear is hanging out, we see if he can pull his pants up a little higher or if a girl’s top is showing more than 2 inches of cleavage (and yes, it’s written in the handbook), we can often have her move the shoulders of her top back slightly to pull the neck line up.

    Photo-shopping a yearbook photo is just creepy. If the picture is inappropriate, don’t put it in. Let the kid know so they can get retakes at the picture make-up day since the photos look like those ID photos taken every year at school. Being Big Brother of Photoshop….twisted.

  • Trollface McGee

    The photoshopping bothers me for some reason. They could have just had students put something else on if if what they wore was inappropriate. In our school, if you wore something against the dress code, either your parent could bring you something or you could wear your gym uniform.

  • SAO

    It would be interesting to learn which girls got the treatment and which didn’t. Was it a matter of covering the shoulders of the popular, pretty or sexy girls? While the girls considered less attractive could flaunt their bare shoulders?

  • Jewel

    It draws way more attention for the girls’ dress to be altered then the original dress they were wearing, which goes against what “modesty” is supposed to be about, according to their own definition (not drawing attention to yourself). How embarrassing and shaming to the girls who went and picked up their yearbooks, turned to see their pictures, and found that they were “altered”.

    I agree with whoever said it was probably the pretty, popular, “sexy” girls who were shamed (and wondering who’s standards were applied to determine if they were pretty or “sexy” is creepy – some panel of middle-aged men on the school board?) Growing up attending a Catholic school, I was subject to this kind of shame on more than one occasion. We normally wore uniforms, but we would occasionally have “casual days” where we could wear jeans and shirts or something like that. Once, I wore jeans and a sweater that, because I am very tall, showed a TINY sliver of skin on my abdomen. My homeroom teacher immediately shrieked at me when I walked in the door that I was dressed inappropriately. She said I would have to go home and change. Fortunately, a guy friend lent me a T-shirt and I didn’t have to go home. But the damage was done. The negative attention was drawn to me (no one would have even noticed what I was wearing otherwise), and then all day people talked about it. Then they started rumors about me and my guy friend because I was wearing his T-shirt. This didn’t make my boyfriend at the time happy. So, good job, school system, you really averted a problem there, didn’t you?

  • Keary McHugh

    Just judging by the photos available in the news, it seems that several were photos where there were visible bra straps and/or tattooed.

  • Evidently they had a dress code which was printed in the student manual. I found the whole tale disgusting, then I learned that they did have a set of rules. The mistake was made in not enforcing them, entirely. I’m a stickler for rules and dress codes. I think our society has become entirely too sloppy. There is nothing wrong with standards of dress for certain things like work, church, school, then casual. To me standards of dress are not a part of the ‘modesty’ culture, but just specific rules, you follow if you want to survive in a specific institution. Schools could avoid so many problems by requiring a uniform, even in high school. My niece wore her traditional Catholic school (hilarious look) uniform during high school. It did not destroy her. She’s a grad of FIT in NYC. Heck, I remember my mother being called to bring me something else to wear because my skirt was 9 inches above my knee instead of 8!

    To me, this one isn’t about the modesty police, just a principal who should have enforced the rules all year, and not just casually. Frankly, the photo edits should have been applied all around, or not at all. If I were the principal, and the kids violated the dress code, I would have left their photo blank.

  • lodrelhai

    Maybe things have changed, but when I was in high school our photos were taken on the school grounds with school staff in attendance. So if all these girls were violating the school dress code, why were they allowed to take the photo in the first place?

    That said, I’m not generally a fan of modestly dress codes in the first place. In theory they teach appropriateness of clothing for public, but the reality is that they weight far heavier against women/girls than men/boys. Female dress codes will be more extensive than male, and women get called out on violations more often and more severely. They are also applied not applied equally, as demonstrated in this story.

    One of the rare male cases I saw was at the private Christian school several of my friends attended in our teens. A young man was suspended for a week for dying his hair – he’d put in some blond streaks with one of those over-the-counter sprays. Many students protested because other, more popular students were widely known to highlight or color their hair, to which the official response was the punished student’s hair was too strong a contrast from his natural look. One of my friends, who was also one of the most popular students in the school both among his peers and the teachers, bleached his jet-black hair blond in protest. He was never so much as pulled aside for discussion or reprimand.