Students and parents are calling for a yearbook to be reprinted after it was discovered around 80 pictures of girls had been altered.
The photos for the yearbook were altered after they were deemed “inappropriate” and not in line with dress code. But students from Bartram Trail High School in St. Johns County, Florida, say the incident made them feel uncomfortable and sexualized.
Ninth grader Riley O’Keefe said she laughed in disbelief when she opened the yearbook and saw her photo.
A black bar had been added to cover her chest and after looking through the rest of the yearbook she realized more photos of girls had received this clumsy edit.
Several girls had their chests photoshopped while others had their shoulders covered.
“You’re not only affecting their photo. It’s not just protecting them. You’re making them uncomfortable and feel like their bodies aren’t acceptable in a yearbook,” O’Keefe said, as per the New York Times.
The 15-year-old says she wore the exact same outfit from her picture to the office, and they told her it was fine.
She said the altered image she saw of herself in the yearbook made her feel uncomfortable and later furious and she wanted to speak up on behalf of others.
“I don’t want girls to feel like they don’t have a voice, especially girls who don’t feel comfortable coming and speaking about it,” she said.
Other students said they felt embarrassed, ashamed, and sexualized.
“I felt confident that day and like I looked good. I was in dress code, and then, when I sent it to my mom and all of us saw it, I felt very sexualized, like that was what they were worrying about,” said Zoe Iannone, a 9th grader whose photo was altered to cover her chest.
Many students and parents are now demanding an apology and for the yearbook to be reprinted with the unaltered photos.
“They need to recognize that it’s making girls feel ashamed of their bodies,” O’Keefe added.
The student told the New York Times that no picture of male students were altered, including one of the swim team in which the boys wore Speedo bathing suits.
Christina Langston, a district spokeswoman, told The St. Augustine Record that a teacher who serves as the yearbook coordinator had made the edits.
“Bartram Trail High School’s previous procedure was to not include student pictures in the yearbook that they deemed in violation of the student code of conduct, so the digital alterations were a solution to make sure all students were included in the yearbook,” she said.
She said the school was offering refunds and “receiving feedback from parents/guardians/students on making this process better for next year.”
This isn’t the first time staff from Bartram Trail, a public high school with about 2,500 students, have had an issue with the clothing their female students have worn.
In an online petition, started by O’Keefe in March, she said on one occasion “countless young women were taken out of their learning environment and sent to the dean’s office where they were forced to change. All because of the lengths of their shirts, skirts, or the thickness of their straps.
“This is ridiculous,” she wrote in the petition, which has so far been signed by 7,500 people. “Many young women were even asked to unzip their jackets so that an administrator could check what they were wearing underneath, and if they did not comply, they were threatened with suspension.
“The dress code is clearly based on the sexualization of young women and their clothing, especially since many girls are told they are dressed inappropriately or that what they are wearing may be “distracting” to the boys.”
I’m shocked that this is happening in 2021. Young boys are never told that the clothes they choose to wear is “distracting to others.”
Those that are sexualizing teenage girls are the ones with the problem and rules need to be put in place to prevent this conduct; we shouldn’t be undermining girls’ confidence in this way, and never in school!
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