Utah teens shocked to see altered yearbook photos

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 30, 2014 at 6:57 am •  Published: May 30, 2014
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HEBER CITY, Utah (AP) — A little airbrushing to school pictures can spell big relief, concealing pimples and brightening complexions. But some students at Wasatch High School cracked their yearbooks this week to find more than tiny touchups: digital alterations including cap sleeves on their tank tops, raised necklines and in one case, a vanished tattoo.

Several students at the Heber City public school said they've often worn those outfits on campus and never heard from officials that they violated the dress code.

With the digital changes, "I feel like they're shaming you, like you're not enough, you're not perfect," sophomore Shelby Baum said Thursday. Baum's collarbone tattoo reading "I am enough the way I am" was lifted from her photo. She also discovered a high, square neckline drawn onto her black V-neck T-shirt.

Baum said she plans to ask for a refund or a new book with an unaltered photo.

Other students whose photos were doctored said the pictures squelched their right to express their style, and made them feel singled out because school officials have been inconsistent in enforcing the standards.

Students tasked with assembling the yearbook as part of a yearlong class altered photos of at least seven students at Wasatch, which has an enrollment of 1,700. None were boys, the students said.

"When I show my grandchildren, I'm gonna be like, 'Yeah, I went to a high school where we weren't allowed to be who we were,'" said sophomore Rachel Russell, whose shirt sprouted sleeves in her yearbook picture.

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 inconsistent alterations and said they were evaluating the policy on doctoring photos.

KSTU-TV in Salt Lake City first reported the altered photos Wednesday. Heber City, population 12,000, is about 40 miles east of Salt Lake City.

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.

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