Rape victim advocate calls yearbook photo incident ‘unacceptable’

SALT LAKE CITY — The Rape Recovery Center, an advocacy group for victims of sexual assault, decried the decision by Wasatch High School to edit yearbook pictures of girls for “modesty.”

In an interview with FOX 13 on Thursday, Rape Recovery Center Executive Director Holly Mullen called for an investigation into Wasatch High’s administration and sensitivity training over the situation.

“Say that you don’t want lingerie showing, underwear showing, all those things. But a sleeveless shirt? Is that really immodest?” she said. “Is that really going to send messages to others and be hard to control? It’s just a bit too much.”

Mullen accused Wasatch High administrators of “modesty shaming.”

“I think the message is there that it’s women’s jobs to control the way they look, it’s males to look the way they want,” she said. “I say this all the time: short skirts, bare arms — they don’t cause rape. Rapists cause rape. It’s a continuum and that’s where we end up when we take this to the extreme.”

Mullen said administrators, however well-intentioned, reinforce a “theme” that women must be controlled and directed, “so as not to inflame male sexual appetites.”

“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.”

FOX 13 first reported on Wednesday that a number of girls at Wasatch High had their yearbook pictures altered to cover their shoulders or chests without their knowledge. School administrators said the students in question violated the dress code.

Wasatch High issued a statement on Thursday in response to the controversy, defending its decision to edit the pictures.

Read the statement here:

Wasatch High statement

FOX 13 contacted other school districts across the state to see if they altered yearbook pictures deemed inappropriate. While many pointed to their dress codes, all said they would not alter yearbook portraits.

“If there is a question of whether or not the clothes that are being worn do meet our dress code? We handle it right then and there before the picture is taken,” said Jeff Haney, a spokesman for the Canyons School District.

Some school districts, like Davis, Granite and Weber, said they would not allow a student to sit for a picture if they violated the dress code. If one gets through, it would be flagged and the student would have to have their picture retaken.

A yearbook photography company said their policy is not to alter pictures and they work with school administrators to make sure students are compliant with dress codes.

Rob Lund, the territory manager for Lifetouch Photography (whose client is not Wasatch High), said his company takes more than 330,000 student pictures every fall for 630 schools in Utah.

“To my knowledge, no schools we work with do it,” he told FOX 13.

See a gallery of the altered yearbook pictures here:

27 comments

    • Bob

      No, there is a separation between church and state. This is the typical mentality of school district staff around the country. It was a school principle in Columbus Ohio who suspended a 10 year old boy for pointing his finger like a pistol. It’s the old Zero Tolerance – Zero Brain philosophy.

      • Master Baiter

        If there is separation of church and state in Utah, then how come I cannot buy liquor from a private owned store? Or buy real alchohol? Or oder alcohol without ordering food? Or buy alcohol on Sunday? Or enjoy more than one adult store? This state is ran by the cult and it has become a laughing stock because of it… The rest of American thinks this state is ridiculous… Check nations news comment sections, it’s true…

    • 4Truth

      Yep! What they did in altering photos was inappropriate because showing shoulders is not immodest and covering the shoulders does nothing to change the heart of man. Also the mormons did alter a classic painting in order to put sleeves on the women when they hung it in one of their buildings. They also altered a photo of a very young girl to put sleeves on her in one of their magazines I heard. My daughter’s school told her one day that she cant wear her cross necklace, yet other girls were wearing their lds ‘young women’ medallions showing their temple and no one told them to take those off. This issue really does run deeper than dress codes and how to dress for the workplace!

    • Bob

      In Bergen County, New Jersey you can’t buy clothing, shoes, furniture, home supplies and appliances on Sunday, and many states prohibit selling alcohol for on and off-premise sales on Sunday. If adult book stores and prostitutes are your pleasure than Nevada has more of what you’re seeking.

      Most people enjoy the smell of fresh flowers in a garden, but there will always be those who are quite comfortable picking through refuse at the city dump. Each to his own.

  • Niki

    I call BS on that 2nd photo with the girl in the jean jacket, it’s a completely different head and hair in the altered picture! o_O

  • Joe de Oakes

    This might have been avoided had the school district explained the policy in the days prior to the photo sessions, rather than simply posting a sign which students didn’t see until they were having their photo taken. Not very bright, administration.

    • Erica

      The girls stated they had worn these same outfits throughout the school year without issue. Also there are girls with the same outfit which were not edited which made it appear as they were being singled out rather than doing to everyone across the board.

  • Cartman

    So they wear those same outfits every day at school, and nobody complains…..then, with literally seconds to go before the shutter snaps they’re shown a sign that says, “No”?
    I have no problem with a dress code. In fact, I’m a fan of school uniforms. But if you’re going to have rules, enforce them EVERY DAY. Don’t just arbitrarily choose to enforce them on the day of yearbook photos because you’re afraid your weakness and hypocrisy might be on display.

    As for you people who think this is a “Mormon thing”……you need to get out of Utah once in a while and look around. The school’s dress code is used by almost every public high school in the country. You’re RUBES.

      • saltamont3

        Utah isn’t the only state where sleeveless / low-cut shirts violate school dress codes. All you’re saying is that LDS “cults” have responsible dress standards outside of school as well.

    • Ben

      Wow! you really are blind if you believe what you say. That is the problem with people in Utah. They have usually lived there too long to be blind to their own hypocrisy and misconceptions. I live in Oregon now. Have a look at Oregon’s dress code. Nowhere on there does it says not to expose your shoulder, or wear a v-neck shirt, or shorts/skirts to your knees.
      Check for yourself:
      http://www.orecity.k12.or.us/students/dress_code

    • Breah

      Thank you for standing up for the fact that it is not about religion here but the fact the not enough information was given. But I do have to put in a point. I go to the Wasatch High School and I hear girls talking about being dress coded almost everyday. Not saying it happens everyday but the school is fairly consistent.

      • Courtney

        The same yearbook has a two page layout of ‘studs being studs’ with guys wearing no shirts, flexing, underwear showing. That is not a consistent message. Unless you are implying that as long as allgirls are modesty shamed it’s consistent.
        I hope these girls sue the school. It’s flat out discrimination.

      • Breah

        Hi Courtney, I just went through the whole year book and couldn’t find that section, would you please tell me what page it’s on? Because I don’t see it anywhere.

  • Katherine

    Why not just cover them completely with burkas as we head into a more subversive treatment of women? What’s next, walking 10 paces behind?

  • brady baum

    I am shelby baums dad and her mother was with her when the pic was taken and there was no sign and my question is if the pics dont meet school dress code and there standards why were the same pics use for there id’s and everything else

  • Mike

    Wasatch High School did the same thing last year to my daughter who wore a nice blouse that showed a small portion of her shoulder. The administration received an earful about letting fellow students photoshop pictures without notice or permission. They were warned they could get embarrassing national press. Apparently they didn’t learn and decided to post a sign that many people did not see and continue the same practice.

    • Bob

      You appear to have some serious mental issues. Apparently there another side to your stalking charge, and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle?

      This is a public school issue, and as you know, or should know, God, prayer, and the LDS Church aren’t permitted inside. I don’t agree with what the school did to these yearbook pictures, and neither do most of your LDS neighbors, or anybody else.

  • Elicia Garcia

    Out of everything that is going on in this state? This is really a big deal? Please get over yourselves and cover up. Everyone knows what the rules are in school hasn’t changed.

  • Jake Mormon

    Why should women have to “cover up”? What does that even mean? Have we gotten so far from reality that we have lost our appreciation for our own bodies? I’m not afraid of some shoulder skin… why are you? It really is silly the morals of religious folk are being pressed upon the rest of us. From knocking on my door to shaming my sisters and friends for being comfortable in their own skin. Shameful…. truly.

  • Mindy

    I am LDS and I do not approve of what happened here. Us “mormons” as you call us believe in the freedom to choose… period. Granted select individual members may state otherwise but as a whole those girls should have had a choice in the matter period.

  • Cartman

    Yes, they should go ahead and feed the kids using taxpayer dollars even though the parents can afford to do it. That’s what communism is! Solidarity!

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